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In the News

Sociology in the News: Parents left without childcare

Vicki Woolven

15th August 2022

Parents are being left without childcare as nurseries shut at short notice due to financial pressures and staff shortages. Nurseries are facing increased energy, food and staffing costs, as well as struggling to recruit.

Despite the government promising to increase funding for childcare providers, the early years sector is currently facing its worst crisis in recruitment and cost increases in 20 years, meaning that nurseries closing overnight is becoming increasingly common. Obviously this is highly inconvenient for working parents, and disruptive for children.

Many nurseries across the country are running at a loss and having to raise fees to cover increased staffing costs, with early years providers competing for staff with the companies such as Amazon, who pay much higher rates with flexible hours. Nurseries are also facing increased food and energy costs, with gas and electricity bill more than doubling, and having to make decisions such as turning off boilers to save energy.

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Choosing between a family and a career?

This is the stark choice that may women are facing today, particularly if they have children under 3, and therefore no access to early years funding. Nursery costs are so high nowadays that just putting one child through nursery care costs more than most household mortgages, and putting two children through means that women are often spending more on childcare than they are actually earning!

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But it's not just parents of pre-school children who are struggling, for those with children are school the costs of holiday childcare prevents many women from working full-time. And while there are charities offering free childcare, this is not always practical for parents who work a full day.

Research shows that holiday childcare costs have risen by 5% in the last year and childcare over the summer costs more than double what parents pay during term time. Parents across Britain face paying around £148 per week typically for holiday childcare. It means six weeks' worth of holiday childcare could cost working parents nearly £890 on average, for each school age child. Whereas, six weeks of term time childcare would cost around £400 on average.

Many women will have no choice but to choose not work altogether or struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food or rent. Charity Coram Family and Childcare argues that holiday childcare is "key economic infrastructure", and warned: "The lack of childcare places for working parents is a serious problem - not just for families but for the country's economic output.

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Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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