'Subsidies needed' to aid retirees caring for grandkids
Published 15/04/2015 | 02:30
A year's paid maternity leave and subsidies for childcare providers are needed to ease the excessive childcare burden on grandparents, a group representing creches has said.
Teresa Heeney of Early Childhood Ireland said that working parents were increasingly forced to turn to grandparents to help with childcare.
A new study showed this was leading to signs of depression in overburdened older people.
"This is an inevitable consequence of the State not providing affordable childcare," she said.
"Parents are trying to find solutions that will allow them to work, and it can be very difficult for a grandparent to refuse their child or grandchild when they're asked to help out," said Ms Heeney.
She was speaking after new research by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) showed grandparents providing high levels of care experienced significantly more depressive symptoms.
Around 60pc of grandparents had looked after their grandchildren in the last month, and one in five looked after them for more than 60 hours a month.
Ms Heeney noted that a previous 'Growing Up in Ireland' study had shown that grandparents were the most common providers of non-parental childcare, caring for a third of small children.
While grandparents could be very good carers for children, it was vital they had choice.
"It has to suit their lifestyle and health and age and not be something that's a burden for them," she said.
Measures such as extending paid maternity leave to a year would be a huge help in easing the burden on parents, while subventions to creches and other facilities were crucial to ensure the best quality care for children.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson for children Robert Troy added that grandparents are paying a high price as a result of the crippling cost of childcare.
He accused the Government of ignoring the "extreme pressures on working families".