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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 11:25 GMT
Is the UK failing parents?
Millions of children in the UK miss out on nursery education because their parents are unable to afford the soaring fees, according to a leading children's charity.
The Daycare Trust charity has found that the average cost of a nursery place for a child under two years of age stands at £6,200 - an increase of nearly 10 percent on last year's figures.
Demand for nursery places has far exceeded supply and there is currently only one place for every seven children under the age of eight.
The charity, which conducted the survey across England, wants the government to invest more money in making affordable childcare available to all families.
Should the government do more to help parents find affordable childcare? Tell us your childcare experiences.
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am married and work full time, my husband is back at university training to be a much-needed nurse. We already have one child who we pay min £400 a month and have another on the way. I have made the decision to stay at home and look after my children but am told by the government that we have to survive on my husbands £5,000 bursary. So we either take the decision to put two children in childcare at a cost of £800 a month or survive on £5,000 a year. Both of these options do not include "handouts".
The subject of children always makes people emotional. Parents really don't like to be told that they are being subsidised by taxpayers without children. But that's the reality and the net imbalance is truly staggering. The problem is that we live in a society where human rights are everything and financial responsibilities someone else's problem.
Am I missing something here or was I wrong in thinking that a sign of an advanced civilised society is one where health and education are given to all children for the betterment of everyone in the long term. As for those whingers who do not seem to like children and mock the rest of us who do, just think, if we all felt like you mankind would be extinct within one generation. Sobering thought, isn't it ?
Can't afford the childcare when you go out to work? Then don't have kids!
I now expect a deluge of comments from whingeing parents who expect everyone else to foot the bill because they can't be bothered to bring up their own kids. There are millions of us who are not the slightest bit interested in having children. If the government subsidise this sort of thing, it has to be at the expense of something else. Money does not grow on trees. I do not want my taxes used to subsidise selfish parents' childcare costs. I want it to go to healthcare so that we all benefit. If you can't afford a nursery place, I'm afraid that's too bad.
Andrew F, have you thought about who is going to operate the healthcare services from which "we all benefit"? You may not be interested in having your own children, but when you are old and in need of care, the doctors and nurses who take care of you will be the children of those whinging parents whom you are now so ready to attack. It's you that can't be bothered, not them!
Andrew F, UK: We can similarly expect to be deluged by howls of protests from people that don't have children and don't want to waste their taxes. I have private healthcare but still some of my taxes pay for the NHS. I also have a child and pay for childcare. So are we now saying that only people like myself who are fortunate enough to be able to afford childcare can have kids? What next - means testing before you are allowed to conceive? As regards selfish parents, does this include single parents that have to work? Have you people never heard of a society?
Bruce Moss, UK
It amazes me that if anything like this happens, the voice of the childless are outraged that they might be missing out on something that parents are getting. Children are the future of our society, and those that decide to have them should be encouraged and supported. Perhaps Andrew F you should also remember that you are actually someone's child, and it will be other people's children that will look after you if you are sick.
Well said Andrew F! I'm a parent and I was perfectly happy to pay the going rate for nursery places for my kids. What next - subsidised people carriers so that we can all drive the family wherever we want?
Having kids is expensive. If you can't afford it, or if you don't want to put the effort in, don't procreate!
Andrew F has the right idea. Women want the kids but don't want the responsibilities. As soon as the rug rats are of an age to need a nappy change, they pass them off to someone else, expecting the government to pay all the extra costs. Two things here, get married, stay at home and look after them yourself. And secondly the quicker that this government stops all benefits to be accrued by being a single parent with up to 11 possible different claims for benefits per week on my tax bill, the better.
Megan Ravetz, UK
Children are vital for an economy and society to survive in the long term. If issues such as over-priced childcare or family housing discourage people from having kids, then the economy and society suffers. Japan with its low birth rate is a perfect example. So, yes, the government needs to give more support and provide affordable childcare.
We already put children through formal education at too young an age. Evidence suggests that children that go to playschool do just as well as children that go to nursery school. Let the little ones just be!
Perhaps more children in childcare at an earlier age would allow teachers to start discipline at an early age - something that many parents seem to ignore. I'm a primary school teacher and I find the best behaved children are the ones that have been to some kind of pre-school. However, all discipline needs to be carried through to the home life, which is where the problems really start.
Interesting one really - I was chairman of my local pre-school and tried to implement a cost effective joint day-care/pre-school arrangement and was pushed back by parents and staff alike. My feelings on the matter are that people ask for something but when effort has to be put in or money spent, then all the people moaning about childcare suddenly melt into the background. One of the big arguments about this was that local authorities abuse charity day care centres by dumping anti-social and problem children on them, thus causing significant problems for the rest of the group.
I have to wonder at the wisdom of some couples where both parents work. Although a lot of people say it's a financial necessity I wonder how many would actually be better off if they no longer had to pay for childcare, two people travelling to work, two business wardrobes etc. I don't see why those people who either have no children or who make the decision for one parent to not go out to work should have to subsidise those that want it all. If you want it all, pay for it all.
06 Feb 02 | Education
Cost of childcare soars
21 Jan 02 | Education
Childcare 'benefits family and economy'
25 Jul 01 | Education
Childcare swings and roundabouts
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