Originally written for CareforKids.com.au: http://www.careforkids.com.au/newsletter/2015/february/11/perspective.html
According to a recently publicised survey in the UK, a fifth of working parents are considering reducing their hours or giving up their job altogether because of child care costs. This is just as pertinent to Australians as it is to UK parents, as child care costs reach unachievable levels on both sides of the world and parents are being forced to make difficult decisions.
The UK survey of 1,000 parents of children aged up to 16 also found that many were planning to cut back on essentials this year, because of the financial strain of child care. And one in five said they are thinking about reducing their working hours or quitting their job.
In our own survey last year, we revealed that of the mums who had not returned to work, a fifth said this was because it simply wasn’t financially viable to do so.
Removing parents’ choice as to whether or not they continue to work after having children is not the answer for families or for the economy.
This lack of choice is due to the following key factors:
- The extreme lack of child care for children under two years old
- The cost of child care
- The fact that many parents feel that their children are too young for centre based or family day care under the age of two
- The fact that nannies in-home care still doesn’t qualify for child care benefits
- Operating hours aren’t flexible and aren’t meeting parents needs
- Slowness of employers to truly embrace the need for flexibility for
both parents so that they may share the child care load.
Parents of the youngest children are most under pressure and find it almost impossible to keep up with their current work conditions and pay levels vs. child care costs.
This leads to the inescapable question for many parents: is their job worth the cost of child care? Usually this still falls on the working mum’s door, as it’s still more likely that the father has the better paid job and better career prospects. So women are still having to make the choice between career and children. This will inevitably have a trickle down effect to the Australian birth rate, because couples simply won’t be able to afford to have children.
Published for CareforKids.com.au on 11.2.15 – http://www.careforkids.com.au/newsletter/2015/february/11/perspective.html