A national study says the average weekly cost of early years childcare is almost €178, a €4 increase on last year.
The findings are part of the Early Years Sector Profile Report 2017/2018, developed and published by Pobal for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).
The report, which surveyed 4,000 childcare services nationwide, presents an overview of the early years sector in Ireland over 12 months.
Nearly 203,000 children are attending creches and daycare facilities around the country, a 9% increase on the previous year.
While the total capacity within the sector has grown by approximately 6%, this has not kept pace with increased demand, with the total number of vacant childcare places reducing by 31%.
Fees have risen in community-based services and in those in rural areas but childcare costs are still more expensive in affluent areas, in cities, and in private facilities.
In Dublin’s Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, fees could be €308 a week for one child.
The sector employs 29,500 staff, and the average qualification level of childcare staff has increased, with 94% qualified to NFQ Level 5 or higher and 65% to Level 6 or higher.
The head of Monitoring, Analysis and Outcomes with Pobal, Martin Quigley, says the staff turnover rate was just over 25% in the last 12 months, a slight decrease on the previous year.
"The average wage is €12.17," he said.
"Early years assistants, who make up about half of those staff members, would earn on average €11.20. Almost 25% is the turnover rate which we have identified, down slightly from the 28% last year.
"However, when we look at it, it would appear the majority of that movement is within the sectors," he said.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone launched the report today, and said the Early Learning and Care sector in Ireland was experiencing a period of transformative change.
"Over 200,000 children attended an early learning and care setting last year; an experience that will impact these children positively as they make their way through life. More than 84,000 benefited from the enhanced measures introduced last year," she said,
"The number of staff working in the sector has grown by 8% to nearly 30,000 and we welcome the nearly 100 new services delivering our schemes this year; improving access to quality early learning across the country," she said.