Sunday 26 February 2017

Plan to tackle childcare crisis might just crèche and burn

Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

New proposals aimed at tackling the childcare crisis come, once again, as a government gets into electioneering mode
New proposals aimed at tackling the childcare crisis come, once again, as a government gets into electioneering mode

I remember sitting down with a pad, paper and calculator on holidays once trying to work out a complex series of numbers to see if it was worth my while to go back to work part-time instead of full-time, or cheaper to give it up altogether. With two small children, one starting school and a mid-level job in financial services, it seemed an overwhelming juggling of balls. Most parents end up doing this, usually after a second baby; definitely after a third. That was a long time ago, but it seems nothing has really changed.

There has been much progress in the area of maternity leave of course, delaying the decisions, but not changing them, and usually in response to an EU directive. Reductions in State benefits and increases in crèche fees, however, mean we still end up having the same-old, same-old conversation.

We're still a long way off the supposed utopian Scandinavian model offering State-funded childcare, free early education, lengthy parental leave (split between men and women as far back as 1974), funded co-parenting, and an expectation that women will quickly get themselves back into the tax-paying workplace with the financial support of employers and hefty back-up legislation.

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