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Early years

29th Mar 2018

More demand… but the number of childcare places for babies and toddlers is falling

A lot of parents are struggling.

Gillian Fitzpatrick

These 13 common names have become seriously unpopular with parents in 2018

I know among my own friends – getting smallies into childcare can be incredibly challenging.

And if you’re living in some of the more heavily-populated areas of the country (particularly in Dublin) finding a place for your baby or toddler can be close-to impossible.

Waiting-lists seem the norm, and I’ve seen some of my fellow mums in genuine ‘what are we going to do’ panic because they have no childcare options and they have to return to work.

I was fortunate: back in 2013 when I was deciding on a creche for my daughter, Giulia, I seemed to have plenty of options in the Rathmines/Dublin 6 area. But things have evidently changed a lot in five years.

Indeed, shockingly a recent survey from Seas Suas – the organisation that represents childcare and early education providers – reveals that the number of places available to babies and toddlers is actually falling.

The survey of 128 providers was carried out last month – and it highlights that a shortage of staff is the biggest driver of this: almost half of respondents said they had vacancies; a third said it can take up to four months to fill an opening. More than two-thirds said the difficulty in finding staff meant they had to limit their service.

Full-time staff-to-child ratios in Ireland are as follows:

0 – 1 year of age 1 adult : 3 children

1 – 2 years of age 1 adult : 5 children

2 – 3 years of age 1 adult : 6 children

3 – 6 years of age 1 adult : 8 children

“Younger children require higher staff ratios, with babies requiring staffing ratios of one adult for every three babies,” Seas Suas said. “With the availability of staff now a huge problem for the sector, providers are struggling to keep ‘baby rooms’ open.”

Have you had difficulty getting childcare for your younger baba or toddler? Let HerFamily know…