CUTS in family incomes have meant parents are drastically reducing their use of childminders, a new survey has revealed.
Some 45pc of parents cut down on the number of hours for which they sought a childminder in 2010, the research found.
And in 75pc of these cases, a reduction in the parents' working hours or pay was given as the reason for the change.
For once, the county in which prices were highest wasn't Dublin. The survey found that the average weekly cost of childcare in the capital was €177 a week, less than Cork and the commuter belt counties of Meath, Wicklow and Kildare.
However, it was still well above the national average of €151 in 2010.
Some 70pc of the childminders said they were registered for tax. The research was carried out by Childminding Ireland among registered members of the organisation, which represents people who mind children in their own homes.
National Childminding Week is taking place between April 9 and 15.
Childminding Ireland's AGM was held last Saturday and Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, launched the survey at Buswells Hotel yesterday.
Among the other reasons given for a reduction in hours include the birth of more children and family members assisting with childcare.
There was also a 10pc drop in the number of parents who sought childminders to provide after-school care, according to the survey. The figure fell from 52pc in 2008 to 42pc last year.
Childminding rates varied widely across the country, with parents in Cork paying the most at an average of €205 a week.
Fees were also high in Wicklow (€199), Meath (€187) and Kildare (€186). Donegal had the lowest rate at €110.