Child care hard to come by
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AIFS Senior Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Baxter said about three in ten Australian parents find it very difficult to find care for children at short notice and a similar proportion struggle financially to cover the cost of the care.
“Families using formal child care were the most likely to have had difficulties with the cost of care and with finding care at short notice, compared to families using only informal care, such as grandparent care” Dr Baxter said.
“Employed single parents were more likely than parents in dual-employed families to have faced difficulties managing child care arrangements.
“Families also faced challenges when mothers worked non-standard hours, including irregular shifts and night-time schedules.”
Dr Baxter said that parents of children aged up to 14 years old were most likely to report a “very difficult” response with care for a sick child (29 per cent), care at short notice (29 per cent) and the cost of their care (28 per cent).
“In Families Week, it is timely to be reminded of the importance of child care for the wellbeing and positive functioning of families,” she said.
“Many families rely on a combination of formal and informal child care arrangements, with grandparents still integral to the way families make their child care work.
“Children who are cared for by grandparents are in their care for an average of 11 hours per week, with 63 per cent cared for during one or two weekdays per week and 20 per cent cared for on at least one weekend day.
“Many families fall back on a network of not only grandparents – but other providers of informal care –including other relatives, older brothers and sisters, friends, neighbours and nannies.
“Parents often come up with a combination of arrangements that might involve supplementing informal care by grandparents with for example, formal outside school hours care.
“Vulnerable families including single parent families and those with mothers working irregular hours are more likely than others to face difficulties putting in place a set of workable arrangements.
“This underscores the need for broad access to formal child care so that parents can work and also for children themselves who benefit from the social and learning opportunities especially during the years before school starts.”
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