Dublin creches are dearest in the country at €25k
Childcare for two young children can cost as much as an average Irish worker earns in a year.
A survey of more than 150 creches across the country found that costs could be as high as €25,200 in Dublin.
The national average was more than €19,600 for two children under the age of three.
Last year half of those at work – 964,000 people – earned less than €28,500 before tax.
The survey by the Herald was conducted over the past week, and compared prices for full-day care for two children for one year throughout the country.
The capital topped the list of pricey day-care centres, and the average cost of sending your tots to a creche was almost €5,000 more than prices outside Dublin.
The average annual childcare cost for two children in Dublin city is €21,562. High prices were not the preserve of the capital either, as savings outside of Dublin are not that substantial.
In Cork, one provider was offering services above the Dublin average at €23,400 per annum.
However, parents from the southern county can generally expect to pay around €3,000 less than their Leinster counterparts.
Prices in Cork did go lower, down to €12,200 per year for two children, but most creches were closer to the national average at €19,066.
Further west, the dearest option in Galway was €17,680 while the least expensive was €13,520.
Despite the costs, one creche owner argued that it was a struggle to keep costs low for parents while ensuring that a private childcare business “keeps its head above water”.
Michele Akerlind, director of Cheeky Cherubs Early Years Schools in Cork, said it was particularly difficult to deliver quality childcare while dealing with numerous State bodies.
“We have no choice. We have to run this business as best we can,” she said.
She called some of the costs that parents faced “appalling” and urged parents to check inspection reports of creches before enrolment.
“You can’t assume if you’re going to pay this amount of money that you are getting a good level of quality.
Despite the costs, Ms Akerlind said tax credits for childcare were not a good idea. “If parents get the money directly, that money might not necessarily go to quality childcare.”
She added that the issue of childcare costs had to be a priority ahead of Budget 2016 and the general election.
Laura Haugh from online parents’ forum MummyPages.ie said finding affordable childcare was a difficult challenge for many families.
“They can just about cope with one child, which is like a second mortgage,” she added. “It’s when the second child comes into play that mums feel they are being forced out of the workforce.”
However, she said that parents were “not for one second” suggesting that creche owners should receive less money for what they do.