Hundreds of childcare providers around the country could close for three days next week in protest over what owners describe as a shortfall in Government funding.
The Federation of Early Childhood Providers said its members will close their childcare facilities from 26 to 28 September and will stage a protest outside Leinster House.
"Early years providers are closing their doors for good in our sector because the lack of Government funding has made the business unviable," said Elaine Dunne, Chairperson of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers.
The Department of Children said 56 providers are officially recorded as being closed next week and has warned that if a centre closes without giving the required notice, it could result in deductions from future payments.
A spokesperson for Minister for Children Roderick O'Gorman said he is very disappointed at next week's action.
"The Minister believes that closures of services are unwarranted at a time when investment by the State in early learning and childcare is at an all-time high, with an additional €400m invested into the sector in the last two years," the spokesperson said.
"The Minister has clearly signalled his intention to continue increasing this investment. These closures will be disruptive to parents and children and undermine confidence in the sector," the spokesperson added.
Last year, childcare providers agreed to freeze their fees to avail of a new €221 million "core funding" scheme from the Government.
But some owners say the funding is too low and that it comes with too many restrictions.
Meanwhile, SIPTU is calling for the reopening of pay talks with childcare owners saying that the current pay offer for early years educators is unacceptable.
The Labour Court has recommended that the minimum hourly wage rate for employees in early years education be raised from €13 to €13.65.
Unions and employers will vote on the proposed pay deal on Monday with SIPTU saying it will be voting no.
"The low pay epidemic in the sector has caused a major staffing crisis, with 60% of services reporting recruitment difficulties," said SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O'Connor.
"If employers refuse to engage in meaningful negotiations to agree appropriate rates of pay for early years professionals, the staffing crisis will become a full-blown disaster," Mr O'Connor said.