Two weeks ago, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) published the results of a survey of 500 families that was recently undertaken by Ipsos on behalf of the Department. This survey explored the types of early years or school aged care that was accessed by parents, why types of care were chosen, whether parents had accessed subsidies for their children, what they would change about the form of care they used and their overall satisfaction with that care. There were a number of notable results which require further analysis and comment.
For young children not yet in school, the main type of care used was parental care (45%) followed by regulated early learning and care (27%), childminders (16%) and grandparents or other relatives (10%). The vast majority of children (84%) were in their parents’ preferred form of care. It is interesting to note that family plays an important and continuing role in care for children both in school and not yet in school; between 3% (during term) and 8% (after school; during holidays) of children in school were reported to be cared for by grandparents, with 2% of children in school during holidays being care for by relatives.
The reason for choosing the form of care for children not yet in school was mainly dominated by convenience, with 25% of parents reporting that the form of care chosen was convenient to their home or work location. However, affordability (14%) and availability (23%) scored high here, highlighting that work still needs to be done in ensuring that there is an adequate supply of places for children in Ireland. Moreover, these two answers may be linked – scarcity often means higher prices. Interestingly, the reputed quality of care (15%) was also a high scoring determining factor for choosing the form of care, ahead of affordability.
Further to this affordability issue, almost 50% of parents using non-parental care for children not yet in school found it difficult to pay for it and 32% of parents using regulated early learning and care for children not yet in school reported they did not receive any State subsidy such as the ECCE scheme or the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). This has scope to change in the future, with recent expansions of the NCS in terms of eligibility and subsidy increases.
School Age Childcare
Furthermore, for children in school some 81% of parents are not accessing subsidies for children during school holidays, with 53% receiving subsidies in care before school and 80% not accessing subsidies after school. Indeed, this highlights that work remains for DCEDIY and the City/County Childcare Committees regarding the NCS as universal subsidies are available for these times. However, a number of families do not know that subsidies are available before school (10%) and after school (1%). Again, changes to these figures following Budget 2023 would be unsurprising and are likely expected by the Government.
It is interesting to view the results which highlight the desire for changes to provision in the parents’ local area. Leading the results are ‘more affordable childcare’ (21%), ‘more childcare places’ (21%) and ‘longer opening hours’ (11%). These would reflect the State’s priorities of improving affordability and accessibility of early years, as laid out the 2020 Programme for Government. However, a disconnect between Government priorities and the priorities of parents and families can be seen, as ‘more childcare staff’ (2%), ‘higher quality childcare’ (1%) and ‘better wages for staff’ (1%) do not appear to be highly sought by parents yet are high priorities for the Government. It is possible to speculate here that parents may link these items regarding quality and staffing to higher costs for parents, or it may be that parents are already satisfied with the quality care and education their children receive.
Get in touch
This is just a snapshot of some of the more notable results from this survey, and you can read the full results along with the Departmental press release on the DCEDIY website. If you had any thoughts, comments or feedback on this survey please do not hesitate to contact our Policy, Advocacy and Campaigning team on firstname.lastname@example.org.