Thursday, 2 June 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
20. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans to tackle the shortage of affordable childcare places in Cork city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28118/22]
As indicated in my earlier reply, the availability of high-quality early learning and childcare that is affordable and accessible is a key Government priority.
Before the onset of Covid-19, national data indicated that supply of early learning and childcare places was broadly meeting demand, though there was evidence of undersupply for certain cohorts of children and in certain areas.
Data gathered throughout the Covid-19 pandemic revealed lower demand for early learning and childcare. Indeed, data captured in June 2021 found significant vacancy rates across the country – with the national vacancy rate averaging at 21% and a vacancy rate in Cork City of 29%.
My Department has continued to monitor early learning and childcare capacity, with a particular focus on monitoring Covid-19 impacts as public health restrictions have been lifted and on responding to the unmet early learning and childcare needs of families.
In April of this year, City/County Childcare Committee (CCC) undertook a nationwide survey of capacity in early learning and childcare services. This was followed in May by the Early Years Sector Profile Survey that is undertaken by Pobal annually on behalf of my Department.
Capacity data captured through the recent CCC survey and the Early Years Sector Profile Survey has been extracted and will be made available in the coming weeks. An initial analysis of these data show vacancy rates in Cork City are now approximately 14%.
In addition to some of the measures to address undersupply referred to earlier, City/County Childcare Committees, including Cork City Childcare Committee are proactively engaging with early learning and childcare services to explore the potential for services in increase capacity where there is evidence of unmet early learning and childcare needs of families - with applications to Tusla to increase capacity in ELC services fast tracked, where possible.
Parents in Cork City experiencing difficulty in relation to their early learning and childcare needs should contact their Cork City Childcare Committee (CCC) for assistance.