A study by Carlow Live of the Dolmen County's average cost of childcare compared to other counties has revealed that Carlow is one of the cheapest places across the country.
In a Parliamentary Question, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, for the value of childcare fees paid in 2017 and 2018.
The figures provided revealed that in 2017/18 Carlow had the third lowest fees for full day care with an average of €149.53 which is 16% below the national average of €177.92.
Meanwhile its part-time fees were costing parents on average €84.29 with sessional coming to €70.02.
The highest fees were reported in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, where the average weekly fee for full day care was €233.26. This is €55.34 or 31% above the national average.
The majority of counties with higher fees also have more children on waiting lists. This would indicate that higher demand for places is likely to lead to price increases.
The lowest average fee for full day care was reported in Longford, at €146.56, which is €31.36 or 18% below the national average.
The difference between the highest and lowest fees at county level was €86.70 for full day care; €52.45 for part-time care and €26.34 for sessional care.
Minister Zappone said: "Each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to childcare services in Ireland, including the monitoring of fees.
"The latest Early Years Sector Profile report, which was published in November 2018 and is available on the Pobal website, relates to the 2017/2018 programme year.
"In 2017/18, the average weekly fee, per child, for full day care was €177.92. The average weekly fee for part-time childcare was €101.82 and for sessional care it was €68.95.
"Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is the most expensive county for all three types of childcare, while Leitrim is the least expensive for part-time childcare and Donegal is the cheapest county for sessional care.
"The average weekly childcare fee for full day care increased by €3.76 or 2.2% since 2016/17. The largest increase, year-on-year and over time, was observed for part-time fees, which increased by 3.3% since 16/17 and by over 6% since 2012."
She added: "The fees charged by services vary depending on location. Generally, services located in urban areas and in counties on the East coast charge higher fees, while those in rural areas and counties in the Midland, Western and Border regions tend to have lower fees.
"It is worth noting that while there are large differences between average fees between counties, the fees charged by services within counties also vary.
"For example, the lowest fee reported by a service in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was €150, while the highest was €308."
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