Childcare service closures at lowest level for five years – new data confirms

From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth 

Published on 25 August 2023

Last updated on 25 August 2023

46 net closures in first 7 months of 2023 compared to 78 in same period in 2019

Closures of childcare services have fallen to a five-year low, new data published today (25th August) by the Government confirms. In addition, the overall number of Early Learning & Care (ELC) and standalone School-Aged Childcare (SAC) services is now increasing.

The latest data on service closures and new service registrations, drawn from the official register at end July 2023 shows:

  • a five year low in the number of net ELC services closures, such as crèches and pre-schools (i.e. 46 net closures January-July 2023 compared to 71 net closures in 2022, 77 net closures in 2021, 77 net closures in 2020 and 78 net closures in 2019 for the same time period)
  • a net increase of 72 standalone SAC services (after-school childcare) year to date;
  • a net increase of 26 in the overall number of ELC and SAC services year to date.

These services are required by law to register with Tusla. Registered childcare providers are required to notify Tusla in writing of the closure of a service not later than 28 days after the closure. The register is updated monthly.

Registered childcare service closures & new service openings January – July, 2019 – 2023

Image: None

Registered childcare service closures & new service openings January – July, 2019 – 2023



In total, at the end of July 2023 there were 4,797 childcare services registered with Tusla.

Commenting on this latest data Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said:

‘Ensuring access to affordable, high quality places in ELC and SAC is a Government priority. I am encouraged to see an increase in the overall number of ELC and SAC services nationally, and a continuing fall in the number of net ELC service closures this year so far.

The introduction of Core Funding in September 2022 resulted in a €259 million increase in public investment in the sector, supporting the sustainability of ELC and SAC services, as well as providing a basis for improvement in staff wages and affordability for parents. That investment will increase by €28 million or 11% for year 2 of the scheme to €287 million, with over €8 million of this additional funding allocated to a further expansion in capacity.

In addition to this, parental choice is set to be strengthened by Government plans to bring childminders into the scope of regulation and National Childcare Scheme subsidies from later in 2024, in line with the National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028’.

This latest data from the register of services show the annual trend of a decline in net ELC service closures nationally is continuing. In 2022, there were 141 ELC service closures notified to Tusla and 83 new ELC service registrations (i.e. 58 net closures) compared with 141 ELC service closures and 65 new ELC service registrations in 2021 (i.e. 76 net closures), 197 ELC service closures and 91 ELC new service registrations in 2020 (106 net closures), and 196 ELC service closures and 93 new ELC service registrations in 2019 (103 net closures).

While five-year comparisons are not possible for standalone SAC services, due to registration only commencing in late 2019, an overall increase in the number of standalone SAC services is also evident from the data.

Net closures of services do not necessarily imply a reduction in capacity in the sector, as open services may be expanding capacity at the same time. In its first year of operation, Core Funding provided evidence of increased capacity, with analysis showing the increased capacity was the type of capacity that is in highest demand relative to supply (i.e. more baby and toddler places as well as school-age places). The additional investment in Core Funding for year 2 of the scheme provides for further increases in capacity, of 3%.

Where childcare services have chosen to close, the reasons given by providers for closures are diverse (see breakdown of reasons in table below). While some services have closed for financial reasons, many have closed for other reasons such as retirement of the owner or manager.

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