Despite investment aimed at reducing the cost of crèches for parents, there has been a €4 rise in fees per week, according to a new report which was developed and published by Pobal for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The report notes that increases in rural areas are most marked. However, the fees remain highest in urban areas. In reaction to the report, the Green Party’s Galway West and local election candidate, Pauline O’Reilly, said: “The Minister, Katherine Zappone, has reported the rate of increase of €4 this year rather than €7 last year as a positive move. This is neither a good return on investment nor affordable for parents.”
Ms O’Reilly said salaries for childcare workers also remain low, “despite the valuable work caring professionals carry out” at an average of €12.17 per hour. “The low value placed on being with children is responsible for a high turnover in staff resulting in a lack of stability of care for children,” she said.
The Greens are calling for subsidies to be paid directly to families and for investment in State-run facilities to be increased. “The report also shows that here in Galway, we have the lowest level in the country of staff training in Children First programme, which teaches staff to recognise and report abuse,” said Ms O’Reilly. “With so many children using early childhood services we need to be sure they are as protected as possible and support staff to receive training.”