Policy Brief: Census 2022

Policy Brief: Census 2022
Léargas and Early Childhood Ireland Erasmus+ ECEC Exchange

The Central Statistics Office has released detailed results from Census 2022 about the ‘childcare’ options availed of by families, including Early Years and School Age Care (EY and SAC) settings. It reveals new information about the most prevalent type of care, hours spent, and information regarding children with disabilities. The Census 2022 release also includes interactive graphs and a map that are very accessible.

Type and hours

Almost one-third of children under the age of 15 in Ireland were looked after by someone other than their parents/guardians. This and other Census 2022 data, are summarised in this Table.

No. of Children under the age of 15 in Ireland 1,012,287
No. of children under the age of 15 in Ireland in non-parental care 331,783 33%
No. of children attending an EY and SAC setting 139,899 42%
No. of children cared for by an unpaid relative or family member 92,118 28%
No. of children cared for by a childminder in the childminder’s home 52,775 16%
No. of children cared for by an au pair, nanny, or childminder in the child’s home 20,263 6%

Galway City had the highest proportion of children in EY and SAC settings, with 57% of children attending one, while Louth had the highest proportion of children being looked after by an unpaid relative or family member at 36%.

Census 2022 also included a question on the number of hours spent in non-parental care.

No. of children who spent 1-10 hours per week spent in non-parental care 108,290 32.64%
No. of children who spent 11-20 hours per week in non-parental care 99,236 29.91%
No. of children who spent 21-30 hours per week in non-parental care 37,665 11.35%
No. of children who spent 31-40 hours per week in non-parental care 40,214 12.12%
No. of children who spent 41 hours or more per week in non-parental care 16,582 5%
Age group

When analysing the Census data, three age cohorts were used: pre-school (Birth-4 years), primary school (5-12 years), and secondary school (13-14 years). Primary school children were the most likely to be cared for by someone other than their parents or guardians, accounting for 52%. Children in secondary school were most likely to be looked after by an unpaid relative, accounting for 64% of that age cohort.

No. of children of pre-school age in non-parental care 149,096 44.94%
No. of children of pre-school age who spent 11-20 hours per week in non-parental care 44,260 29.69%
No. of children of pre-school age who spent 41 hours or more per week in non-parental care 13,172 8.83%
No. of children of primary school age in non-parental care 171,997 51.84%
No. of children of primary school age who spent 1-10 hours per week in non-parental care 87,454 50.85%
No. of children of primary school age who spent 41 hours or more per week in non-parental care 2,975 1.73%
No. of children of primary school age who spent 41 hours or more per week in the care of an unpaid relative 1,650 55.46%
No. of children of primary school age who spent 41 hours or more per week who attended an SAC setting 477 16.03%

10,690 secondary school age took part in non-parental care 46% of his group only took part for one to ten hours a week. 64% of this cohort were looked after by an unpaid relative or family member, with another 22% availing of a childminder, either outside or in the child’s home.

Parental socio-economic group

Census 2022 also looks at non-parental care using the socio-economic status of parents. It classifies the population into groupings based on the skill and educational attainment of their current or former occupation. The biggest parental socio-economic group of children in non-parental care was Employers and managers, and the smallest was Agricultural workers.

Across all groups, the most common form of non-parental care used was an EY and SAC setting, followed by an unpaid relative or family member. Parents of children who were in the Higher professional socio-economic group were most likely to use an EY and SAC setting. Parents in the Farmers and Lower professional groups were more likely to use a childminder in the childminder’s home than the other groups. The Higher professional group had the highest proportion of parents of children who were minded by an au pair, nanny, or childminder in the child’s home.

Family type

In the Census, a family is defined as a couple with or without children or one parent with one or more children. Families that comprised a cohabiting couple with children and lone mothers were most likely to use an EY and SAC setting. Married couples were less likely to avail of an unpaid relative or family member compared to the other family types. One in five married couples chose a childminder in the childminder’s home compared to 13% of cohabiting couples. Lone fathers were the least likely to use an EY and SAC setting compared to other family types and were more likely to have an unpaid relative or family member looking after their children.

Children with disabilities

Census 2022 found that 9,789 children in non-parental care were reported as experiencing at least one long-lasting condition or difficulty ‘to a great extent or a lot’. This accounts for 3% of all children in non-parental care. One in three children in this cohort was looked after by an unpaid relative or family member. 30% of children in this cohort attended an EY and SAC setting. 29% of this cohort were of pre-school age, 62% were of primary school age and 9% were of secondary school age.

The wider data from Census 2022 should be integral in planning for the future of EY and SAC settings, and Childminding. Effective, cyclical planning is one of Early Childhood Ireland’s key Budget 2024 proposals. The relevant Census data will also be outlined in the next series of Early Childhood Ireland Explainers, which will focus on children and quality.

If you have any questions regarding our Explainers or the information in Census 2022, please contact our policy team.

Share this post

More to explore

Policy in Action 16 April 2024

Policy in Action 16 April 2024

In recent months, the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate has provided a number of regulatory notices and updates which have sought…
International Perspectives on Early Years -part four

International Perspectives on Early Years -part four

A report by the UK Government, released last year, looks at the aims and purposes of Early Years provision in…
Press Release – OWLET: Lullabies of the World

Press Release – OWLET: Lullabies of the World

Lullabies from around the world help to foster inclusion and celebrate multilingualism in Early Years settings nationwide . Thursday, April…

Share this post

More to explore

Policy in Action 16 April 2024

Policy in Action 16 April 2024

In recent months, the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate has provided a number of regulatory notices and updates which have sought…
International Perspectives on Early Years -part four

International Perspectives on Early Years -part four

A report by the UK Government, released last year, looks at the aims and purposes of Early Years provision in…
Press Release – OWLET: Lullabies of the World

Press Release – OWLET: Lullabies of the World

Lullabies from around the world help to foster inclusion and celebrate multilingualism in Early Years settings nationwide . Thursday, April…