Childcare costs in Kilkenny have risen to an average full-time fee of €159.40 per week – which is almost €15 below the national average - with 3,389 children enrolled in early years facilities here.
However, Kilkenny's full day weekly childcare fees have increased on average by just over €3.30 when compared to 2015/16 fees when the average was at €156.03.
Minister of Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, this week launched the 2016/17 Early Years Sector Profile developed and published by Pobal for her Department.
The results for Kilkenny reveal that there are 355 vacant places at facilities in the county with 507 children on a waiting list. It is also the 11th most expensive county in Ireland for full day weekly fees.
Meanwhile the average part-time fee per week is €94.21 with €68.17 for a sessional fee.
There are 406 childcare staff in the county paid an average hourly wage of €11.62 and €10.62 for early years assistants both of which are below average.
In total there are estimated to be over 186,000 children attending early years services across Ireland.
The number of children availing of government funded childcare places increased by 41% to over 147,000 in the last 12 months.
Nationally, the cost of a full-time childcare place has increased by just over €7 to €174.16 after five years of fees remaining the same.
On average, childcare staff nationally earn €11.93 per hour; half of these comprising of early years assistants earning an average of €10.88 per hour.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone said “this report adds to the growing body of evidence needed to target increased investment in early years”.
She added: “It provides insights on other important policy priorities, like affordability, sustainability and quality, and will be critical in guiding this rapidly expanding sector in future years.”
The report, which presents an overview of the early years sector nationally and in Kilkenny is based on survey responses from 3,707 services across Ireland – which is 84% of all childcare facilities - in May of this year and information from the childcare ICT system (PIP).