Concerns have been raised by childcare providers as the majority of businesses say that they will not be able to remain open without Government support.

According to a survey by the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, almost 70% of services were not open, as of last Friday. Only 22% are operating at full capacity, it found.

The survey also found 69% of providers are running at a loss.

The federation represents over 1,700 childcare providers across the country. Over 800 operators took part in the survey last week.

The viability of many providers is a serious worry, according to those in the industry. Even before the Covid pandemic, it said underfunding of the sector had reached crisis point.

Chair Elaine Dunne said the results of the survey confirm what the federation has been saying for months.

"The supports for the sector are woefully inadequate and the sector is facing implosion unless the Government acts urgently," she said.

Owner of Mellowes Family Fun Adventure and Childcare Centre in Athboy in Co Meath, Steven Carthy, said his business is operating at 30% capacity.

"Our hands are tied because our numbers are so low. The bills haven't changed. The overheads haven't changed yet there’s more and more demands," he explained.

Steven Carthy said he has had to change the hours he operates since the reopening.

"We’re asking parents to come early now so we can let the children can go and the staff can do cleaning routines. It’s not sustainable," he said.

He is also struggling to recruit staff for September because he said the job is not well paid and has become too stressful.

"I’ve had an ad on Facebook for the last seven weeks for three positions and I’ve had zero applications. Something is wrong there. People aren’t attracted into childcare anymore. They have to pay their bills. They can’t be overworked and stressed out," he said.

A Department of Children spokesperson said today the department is aware of the financial pressures in the sector.

The department has provided supports throughout the Covid pandemic and is consulting with stakeholders on supports from September onwards, the spokesperson said.

Today, Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman held a virtual meeting with childcare representatives, it said.

The spokesperson said the findings of the survey had been noted and will be given further consideration.

However, the spokesperson responded directly to claims that 70% of services surveyed were not open on 10 July.

"This is to be expected in July. A significant number of the total 4, 500 services in the State usually close for July and August. In 2019, 1,800 services were open in July and August. By 9 July 2020, 1,413 childcare services had reopened, 80% of the services which were open at this time last year," the spokesperson said.

The reopening of the childcare sector is progressing very well, and the department expects that more services will reopen over the summer months, the spokesperson said.