Tens of thousands of parents in Ireland search for child care every year, but many say it is getting harder and harder to find places and pay the fees.
Some parents say the situation is straining their finances and well-being, and are asking the government to do more to help them.
Vicky Musitongo, 29, is due to start studying at University College Dublin shortly, and says it is expensive to pay for childcare while at university.
“I’m a single mom, I don’t work and I’m on social assistance so it’s difficult,” she said.
According to Ms Musitongo, her local nursery near Firhouse in Dublin charges € 1,200 per child per month.
Aside from the cost, she says it’s hard to find a spot anywhere.
“I have a 10 year old son and a 3 year old daughter, and she has autism and therefore has additional needs. And unfortunately some people just don’t know how to meet those needs,” she said. .
Ms Musitongo says she has contacted many nurseries to find a place for her daughter, but is constantly told they are full.
She describes the situation as very frustrating.
“You’re kinda fucked up if you do and fucked up if you don’t. I want to get off welfare, but when I want to go back to school and improve myself and do better for myself, that It’s so hard to find daycare for my kids. More needs to be done. “
“I use all my income to cover the costs of the nursery. There is nothing left and there will be a shortfall this year”
Even for those in relatively well-paying jobs, cost can be a significant constraint.
Jessica Traynor is a writer who lives with her husband in North Dublin. Her children are four years and seven months old.
Her monthly childcare bill is € 1,700, after the government grants and subsidies to which she is entitled.
The monthly cost of the nursery is higher than the monthly mortgage payment.
“I am using all my income to cover the costs of the nursery. There is nothing left and there is going to be a shortfall this year, which we can happily cover with our savings,” she said.
She says the childcare system in Ireland presupposes the idea that half of a couple will stay at home.
“It would be better for our finances if I quit my job. But I love my job, and I find it frustrating that we are now talking about this notion of changing the constitution so that the place of a woman is no longer in place. house in the constitution. But in fact all the structures of society are sort of designed to keep us there. “
On the one hand, parents struggle with the costs, while on the other hand, childcare companies find it more difficult to survive.
Nadjet Labreche, owner of Flower Childcare in Clonskeagh in Dublin, hopes the government’s national child care program will make day care centers more affordable for families, but says businesses like his face increasing expenses every year.
She said: “If you go into the details, you pay the rent, the insurance, the staff. A lot of the costs are hidden.”
Ms. Labreche also says that recruiting qualified staff is a huge problem in the industry right now.
“In many nurseries people will not go back to work because they are receiving unemployment benefit from the Covid government. Something has to be done to encourage people to return to work,” she said.
Ireland has some of the highest childcare costs in the EU.
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Donal Coffey and his family returned from Frankfurt to Dublin last year and experienced the difference between Ireland and Germany.
“There was a statutory right for every child to have a place in kindergarten, and it was much, much cheaper,” he says.
In Frankfurt, Mr Coffey and his wife paid € 230 per month for their two children, which included the cost of diapers and food.
He says they were lucky to find childcare in Dublin, but now pay around € 1,500 per month.
“You realize what’s possible. When you realize what’s possible, you think, why don’t we do it here? Why do the Irish have to pay so much more than the Germans for child care?” he said.
The Children’s Ministry has pledged to increase funding for child care, but for parents like Vicky Musitongo, change can’t come quickly enough.
“It has to be more about kids and less money,” she says.
“The government must increase subsidies and open more nurseries.”
Ms. Musitongo describes the situation as disheartening, but is determined that her custody struggle will not prevent her from going to college.
She said: “Sometimes I think, what’s the point? But then I remember trying to break down barriers and change things. I think about my kids.”