The manager of one childcare facility said she was keen to expand the service to help parents deal with the lack of space, but funding was a key issue.
nnette Coyle runs Krafty Kidz, a community childcare service in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan that has been in existence for 25 years.
She said there is 75 children are waiting for a place in the facility, with The overwhelming majority under three years.
“We would be very interested in expanding our daycare and accommodating more babies and toddlers because we have a lot of demand,” she said.
“Our parents joke that the first person they tell they’re pregnant is me, so they can put themselves on the nursery waiting list because it’s so hard to get a place.
“We are absolutely busy, we work at full capacity all the time.
“In our main crèche – we now have three separate locations – which is our all-day care for babies and toddlers, pre-school and after-school, we can care for 64 children. I could fill them twice.”
Krafty Kidz is suitable for children aged six months to 12 years and has 41 employees in the three facilities.
“My parents, who are already with us, know and joke that as soon as they find out they are pregnant, they tell me before telling their husbands to write their names down.
“Right now I’m struggling to keep our own parents we have in places let alone someone new coming in.
“It’s awful. I feel so sorry for the parents. I know there’s a staffing crisis, but I know I have staff and I have a team of staff, so I always have staff ready to go.”
Ms Coyle said the facility has a “desire and will” to expand the service but lacks capital.
“We’ve expanded a lot – we’ve opened two new childcare facilities in the last six months – so we’re continually expanding, but there are no resources to do anything for babies and young children. It’s daycare places that we need,” she said.
“It’s not just about opening a room – you need dormitories and diaper changing facilities and all that.
“Where we are, we have land next to us and room to expand, but there just hasn’t been any capital funding for the under-threes in recent years.”
Ms Coyle said each daycare center has an individual policy, however Krafty Kidz will prioritize siblings of children who are already participating.
“I think it’s a problem across the country, especially for babies and toddlers,” she said.
“We really want and want to expand our crèche. We would like to be able to care for more babies and toddlers.”
A spokesman for the Children’s Department said the availability of quality early childhood education and care (ELC) and compulsory childcare (SAC) that are “affordable and accessible” is a key government priority.
“Since 2015, a significant increase in government investment in ELC and SAC has resulted in a significant increase in the number of children enrolled in these services,” the spokesman said.
“More than 100,000 children are now enrolled in the universal preschool program annually and the National Childcare Scheme is subsidizing up to 80,000 children, with an expected increase due to the 2022 budget.
“To ensure the supply of ELC and SAC places meets demand, since 2015 the department has funded the creation of more than 27,000 new places through an annual capital program.
“Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, national data showed that overall supply of ELC and SAC places met demand, with evidence of undersupply for certain age groups, including children under three, and in certain areas.”
The spokesman said data collected during the pandemic showed “lower demand” for ELC and SAC and “reduced occupancy” in ELC and SAC services.
“Data collected in June 2021 revealed significant vacancy rates across the country – with the national vacancy rate being around the average 21pc,” the spokesperson added.
“The department continues to monitor ELC and SAC capacity, particularly given the recent lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
“The analysis shows a decrease in vacancy rates from June 2021 to February 2022 from 21 pieces to 19 pieces.
“This analysis suggests that there is untapped capacity across the country.”
The spokesman said the department is planning a “set of steps to address any undersupply issue.”
“A new funding model, due to be introduced in September, will provide funding for services aligned with delivery costs,” they said.
“For example, services for younger children, where delivery costs are higher than for older children, will receive more funding.”
The spokesperson added that parents who are experiencing difficulties regarding their ELC and SAC needs should contact the local city or county child care committee (CCC) for assistance.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/parents-say-the-first-person-they-tell-theyre-pregnant-is-me-so-they-can-get-their-name-on-to-the-list-for-a-childcare-place-says-creche-manager-41484923.html “Parents tell me that the first person they tell they’re pregnant is me, so they can put their name on the childcare list,” says the manager