A new survey has found almost three out of ten parents (28 per cent ) could not attend work or have missed out on new job opportunities because they could not access childcare.
Of those impacted, women were twice as likely men to be affected by a lack of childcare.
The survey questioned a representative sample of 1,000 respondents and was undertaken on behalf of Seas Suas, the representative body for independent providers in the early education and childcare sector.
Other key findings include:
Three out of four of respondents support increased State investment in childcare services;
Cost emerged as the largest priority when choosing childcare options, followed by the reputation of a provider. Location and quality of staff were the next highest considerations of respondents .
Difficulty in attracting and retaining staff to work in the early education and childcare sector is becoming a growing issue for many parts of the country. Respondents to the survey were asked their views on the best ways to attract more people into the profession.
Some 42 per cent of respondents believe that state supports in the early education and childcare sector should match what the Government spends on primary and secondary education sectors respectively; while almost a third of respondents support the introduction of a dedicated apprenticeship scheme for entrants to the sector.
“This survey confirms a lot of what early education and childcare providers are already hearing every day from the parents whose children we care for,” said Regina Bushell, chairperson of Seas Suas.
“For working parents, affording childcare is one of the biggest challenges they face, and this situation is made all the worse by the underfunding of the sector by successive Governments. While State supports have increased in recent years, Ireland still lags far behind most other EU states.
“As Ireland now reaches full employment, access to affordable childcare is not just a concern for women or families but a significant societal and economic issue, which will impede our further growth unless meaningfully addressed through increased State supports for families.”