Co. Antrim parents believe childcare is barrier to work

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The average cost of a full-time childcare place in Co. Antrim is £175 which is £6 more than the Northern Ireland average, according to new research.

Employers For Childcare’s eighth annual Childcare Cost Survey captures the experiences of 4,800 parents across the province and highlights how they believe access to childcare is acting as a barrier to work.

In almost a third (30%) of households, the childcare bill is more than the mortgage or rent. Revealing the struggle families go through to meet their monthly childcare bill, 46% of parents report they have had to go without or cut back in order to meet childcare costs. For some this means cutting back on heating their homes, going without quality, fresh food, and skipping meals.

Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information manager at Employers For Childcare, comments said: “This year more than other years, we see parents identifying themselves as experiencing in-work poverty. For others, the figures simply don’t add up and they have left, or plan to leave, the workforce.”

While Co. Antrim families typically require 41 hours of childcare per week, 49% Co. Antrim households report there is insufficient childcare provision in their area. Despite this, the overwhelming majority (87%) of parents are positive about the quality of childcare provision. They recognise the valuable experience their children receive.

Key findings:

• Overall cost of full-time day nursery place has increased by over £12 a month (£3 per week).

• A place at a holiday scheme has increased by £10 a week in a private setting and £13 in a community setting.

• The cost of full-time place at a private day nursery (£172 per week) has overtaken the cost of a full-time place at a registered childminder (£169 per week) for the first time since 2010.

• Counties Armagh and Derry/Londonderry have seen the highest spike in costs for full-time private childcare, up by £7 per week since last year.

• County Fermanagh continues to record the lowest cost for full-time private childcare at £140 per week.

• Parents in Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh report using the most childcare hours at 48 hours per week on average.

• 67% of households report using informal childcare for some or all of their childcare needs. 90% of these households access childcare provided by grandparents.

• 63% of households reported a change in working patterns for one or both parents. Where there was a change the key reason given by respondents was the cost of childcare (42% of these households) while just 16% of these households stated the change was due to personal preference.

Employers For Childcare added it is committed to making sure the voices of parents are heard and are at the heart of legislation and policy development on childcare reform.