Creches struggling to retain staff amid shortage of places

There are calls for an investment scheme to attract and retain staff in creches around the country.

It comes as there is a severe shortage of creche places as a result of the free childcare scheme for 3-5 year olds.

The free pre-school programme applies to 3 to 5 year olds and now caters for over 120,000 children a year.

An unintended consequence of the success of the Early Care and Education Scheme is that babies and toddlers are being squeezed out from childcare facilities.

Gillian Murphy, who is the owner of the Nourrice Creche and Montessori School outside Wexford Town, says they are constantly turning children away.

"Even siblings we are really struggling to provide for at the moment which is really distressing for providers and parents that we would know really well and families that we have had for years," said Ms Murphy.

Meanwhile, Alan Farrell, who is the Chair of the Oireachtas Childrens' Committee says Ireland has not invested enough in childcare over generations.

"We are lagging well behind the European and the global norm," said Mr Farrell.

"It's not going to take one year or an additional billion, it is going to take several years and several billion to bring ourselves up to a relatively good standard."

As a result of the increased pressures, reports suggest that parents are delaying their return to work after maternity leave because they cannot find a place in a creche.

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