Review of the Cost of Providing Quality Childcare Services in Ireland

Childcare policy
Economic analysis


Mackay S

Parry W


March 1, 2020


Crowe (formerly Crowe Horwath), in association with Apteligen, were commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to undertake an independent review on the cost of providing quality childcare in Ireland. The project was part of a wider commitment by the DCYA to establish an evidence base for the development and support of quality Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) provision in Ireland. This contract was awarded in Autumn 2017.

The brief included:

  • analysing the current costs of providing ELC and SAC and the factors that impact on these costs;
  • the development and delivery of a model of the unit costs of providing ELC and SAC that allows analysis of policy changes and variation in cost-drivers, including the potential impact of professionalisation; and
  • providing an objective, high-level market analysis of the sector in Ireland, including analysis of fee levels charged to parents.

An Oversight Group for this work was established by DCYA, comprising representatives from the DCYA, the Department of Education and Skills (DES), and Pobal. The Oversight Group met regularly to provide insight, review outputs, discuss and sign off on key project decisions, including the design of the survey tool. An overall approach and methodology was decided upon in partnership with the Oversight Group and Crowe/Apteligen and a number of key activities have been undertaken to date.

These include:

  • review of literature, context, existing data, and reports, including those submitted via a call for evidence and literature searches (comprising peer-reviewed and “grey” literature);
  • an initial scoping exercise of early-stage informative engagement with 19 providers of different sizes, types, and locations comprising an overview of the providers’ business models and financial records to understand the cost drivers and key issues impacting on the operation of the providers’ businesses;
  • engagement with key stakeholders from the sector, including the Early Years Forum, provider representative organisations, the City/County Childcare Committees, Statutory bodies, professional training bodies, and academics;
  • the administration of a survey to all centre-based providers nationally, to provide the data on which the cost modelling tool would be based;
  • the development of a cost modelling tool (and guidance document) to present the baseline cost data and enable the impact of a range of scenarios on unit cost, to be tested; and
  • the production of a final report.

Outputs from the independent review of costs were subject to an independent peer review.

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