Two-thirds of créches or childcare providers have so far applied for State support to reopen their doors.

The figures come as one umbrella group representing the industry has called for funding for the sector to be doubled.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government wants to ensure the sector is "fully up and running" by the autumn.

A quarter, or about 1,200 out of 4,500 childcare providers, have so far reopened their doors.

It had been expected 1,600 would be open this summer.

The Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration has said that 66% of childcare providers have applied for the Government's capital grant to enable them to reopen.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Roderic O'Gorman said so far, 68 providers have notified the child and family agency Tusla that they intend to close.

This figure compares to 92 providers who notified Tusla that they were closing in the same period last year.

He said 17 new providers have notified Tusla that they intend to open childcare facilities.

Minister O'Gorman was speaking after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that only 60% of facilities had indicated that they would be reopening in September.

He said that the Government wants to ensure the sector is "fully up and running" by the autumn to meet demand and that data is being collected.

"60% of the existing services have indicated they will be reopening by September and this portion may rise," he told the Dáil.

A little later, the Tánaiste's office said that the information provided to him by the Department of Children was inaccurate.

Mr O'Gorman highlighted a survey of 2,000 childcare providers carried out by his department two weeks ago, which found that 85% intended to reopen; that 2% would close; and 13% would examine the situation.

He said his department would be making a detailed submission ahead of the July stimulus package on how to continue to provide support to providers in relation to long term support and the wage subsidy scheme in the immediate future.

The minister said he would look at any proposal that representative bodies in the sector brings to the department.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Aontú's Peadar Tóibín, who said seven childcare providers in Dublin alone have closed down in the past 24 hours, with 55 closing across the country in the past week.

He said he has "shocking" information from the sector showing it is in "chaos".

Mr Tóibín said 180 facilities have closed since the start of the pandemic "due to the lack of support" and "the closures are accelerating".

He said the Federation of Childcare Providers is accusing the Department of Children of "willful neglect" of the sector and has set up a mental health team, with two doctors, "to deal with the level of trauma and upset that has been caused".

Mr Varadkar said statistics from the Department of Children show that since reopening, 1,000 services have registered 11,876 children.

There have been 717 applications for a reopening support payment of an approximate value of €3m and €7m in capital grants have been applied for.

Meanwhile Early Childhood Ireland has said that it "strongly refutes" claims that a high number of childcare providers will close down due to the pandemic.

Teresa Heeney, the organisation's Chief Executive, said: "We have seen absolutely no evidence that there will be widespread closures of childcare facilities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"On the contrary, what we have seen is very high levels of engagement in all the reopening supports that we have provided for our members. Indeed, the engagement is evidence of a really committed sector that wants to support children and families.

"It is true to say that reopening has been challenging and stressful. New ways of working have had to be introduced and our members have done so successfully.

"However, sustainability is an enormous concern. Capacity may be reduced, as may parental demand for places. Therefore clarity around funding for August is required urgently."