The summer holidays are happening. But whilst this provides weeks full of blissful freedom for children, what about working parents who are now facing the increasingly frustrating conundrum of finding affordable holiday childcare? This is something I feel passionate about, and in fact spoke about on BBC World only yesterday which you can watch here:
Here’s some interesting figures for you:
- British families will pay an average of £124 for just one week of holiday childcare. This is a rise of four per cent since 2016.
- There has been a rise in the number of local authorities reporting shortages of holiday childcare provision. In 2016, 33 per cent of local authorities in England said they had enough holiday childcare for four to seven year olds. This year, the figure has fallen to just 29 per cent.
- The price and availability of holiday childcare varies widely for families depending on where in the country they live, and the type of childcare they need. Parents in the North East of England will be paying on average ten per cent more than their neighbours in the North West. Half of local authorities have enough childcare for four to seven year olds in Yorkshire and Humber, while in the East Midlands it’s just one in ten. Across the whole of the country, shortages in holiday childcare are most severe for children with disabilities.
Against this backdrop, how are families supposed to manage with family budgets which are totally swung out of kilter? As someone who is self-employed in the face of all of the above, I will be looking at taking most of the summer holidays off because paying for childcare which will mean that my earnings will be swallowed up just doesn’t make sense. Of course, being self-employed also means that when the clients are there, sometimes I will be forced into working and paying for childcare regardless.
Others will be lucky enough to be able to fall back on family – grandparents after all are now cited as the primary care givers in many instances. Unfortunately we do not fall into that camp along with many others.
Why then, in such a progressive country as we like to think we are, is holiday childcare so woefully lacking or overpriced? If we really want to retain our competitive edge then surely provisions need to be made to enable parents to continue working through the school holidays and providing a more reliable workforce. Indeed, I am certain that this is a big factor involved in why there is such a lost sea of mums who do not go back to work…because the juggle especially during holidays is just not worth it.
While it’s true that the government HAVE been making changes to the childcare provisions, this is only for younger children and still does not address the specific problem of childcare during the summer holidays – something that MUST be looked into in greater detail if we want to champion our country as a dual-income economy.
The Family and Childcare Trust is calling for a Government strategy that makes sure every parent is better off working after they have paid for childcare, and that there is enough childcare for working parents throughout the year and believe me, I know how very different things are on this front now. In so many instances it simply does not make sense for a mother to return back to work which is a crying shame and a waste of talent and workforce potential.
You can find out more about the Holiday Childcare Survey and read the full report over on the Family and Childcare Trust website here.
What are your thoughts about holiday childcare? How do you manage? What changes would you like to see on this front? Please leave a comment below and join the discussion.
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