CHILDCARE IN IRELAND
There are many options to consider when selecting childcare for your family and it is very easy to get lost amongst all the choices. Depending on variables like cost and the amount of cover required (full time/part time/weekends) certain options will be better suited to your personal situation. Some of the more common childcare services include:
Cost of Childcare
Childcare can be expensive in Ireland when compared to other European countries. However, there is great variation throughout the country, depending on the location, facility, staff and whether they offer sibling discounts. Dublin is typically the most expensive, followed by Cork. When considering your options contact at least two to three crèches in your area to ask their weekly/monthly rates. When searching for childcare options in your area http://www.childcare.ie/ is a great resource.
Here are some of the most popular Childcare options in Ireland.
Child minders: Child minders provide a childcare service in their own homes and are self-employed. A child-minder can care for up to 5 children under 6 years of age (including the child-minder’s own). It is the most common form of day care in Ireland with 70% of parents of a preschool child using a child minder. To get a list of child minders in your area contact child-minding Ireland here. Child minders registered with child-minding Ireland are committed to quality, have clearance from their family doctor and are insured to provide a child minding service.
Sessional Care: “Sessional pre-school service” means a pre-school service offering a planned programme to pre-school children for a total of no more than 3.5 hours per session.
Drop in care: A drop-in center offers a service for short periods during the day. These centers are often provided in shopping centers, leisure centers and accommodation facilities. You can drop your child in for a short period of time if you have something you need to do. You should be able to get an hourly rate from the premises owner.
Full-Time Day Care: More commonly known as a crèche or nursery, full-time daycare means a structured service for pre-school children for 5 hours or more per day. Typically, the premises will be divided into various rooms e.g. baby room, wobbler room, toddler room, playschool etc. (all explained below). Your child will be assigned a room depending on age and ability.
Baby Room: For babies, approximately 4 to 12 months old. Generally your child’s day in a baby room should roughly mimic the routine you keep your child in at home and should incorporate time for sleep and bottle feeds too.
- Wobbler Room: For children approximately 12 months to 2 years of age. The next step up from the baby room, your child will enter the wobbler room when they start finding their feet. Routine in a wobbler room will incorporate meal times, sleep times and lots of play. Children typically spend 6 to 9 months in a wobbler room before they progress to the toddler room.
- Toddler Room: For children approximately 2 to 3 years of age. Moving on from the wobbler room around the age of 2 your child will be introduced to more advanced equipment as well as arts and crafts and a more structured schedule of activities. During their time in the toddler room staff will work with toilet-training your child when you decide the time is right. A lot of toddler rooms have a sleep time incorporated in the daily routine.
- Playschool: Caters for children approximately 3 to 4 years of age. Some centers are playschool-only and some have a playschool as part of the larger facility. Similar to the toddler room, your child will be involved in free play, arts and crafts and have structured meal and rest times. However, playschool also starts to prepare your child for the move to primary school and the structure that goes with it, incorporating more learning based play in the daily schedule.
Part-Time Day Care: A structured pre-school service lasting between 3.5 hours and 5 hours per day, which may include a sessional pre-school service. The service must provide the same physical environment as day care, including rest, play and sanitary facilities. Services offering part time care can include; pre-schools, playgroups, crèches, Montessori pre-schools, naíonraí, notifiable child-minders or similar services which generally cater for pre-school children in the 0 - 6 year age bracket. Some facilities offer a 3 or 4 day week, allowing you to leave your child there on a full or part-time basis to suit your own personal arrangements.
- Montessori: Caters for children approximately 4 to 5 years of age. Montessori emphasises learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from many possibilities.
- Naionra: Usually for children aged 3 years to 5 years of age, Naionra is preschool learning through the Irish language under the guidance of highly trained Irish speaking preschool teachers.