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Tuesday, November 11, 1997 Published at 07:28 GMT


Working parents face childcare juggling act

The Daycare Trust demands more widely available and better regulated childcare.

Childcare has been placed in the spotlight by the Louise Woodward case: a new report further highlights the problems facing many working parents in the UK.

The report by the national charity, The Daycare Trust, indicates that only one in 10 companies offer workers help with childcare such as vouchers or nurseries, while over half of mothers with pre-school children work.

The Trust says employers could benefit from higher staff morale and lower absenteeism and stress rates if they helped employees with childcare.

It also says adequate childcare provisions would reduce recruitment costs and improve staff retention rates.

Statutory regulation

Collette Kelleher, Director of the Trust, said there was an acute shortage of regulated affordable childcare.

"We absolutely need to make sure that every person in whatever setting, be they childminder, nanny ... is a fit person, is suitably qualified to look after the child.

"It's up to parents to make those checks, but we do need some form of statutory regulation of all forms of childcare," she said.

"No-one is suggesting that employers should foot the entire bill for childcare in this country, but they have an important role to play and significant benefits to gain by developing childcare."

[ image: Working mother Donna Hill gets her son Dale ready for nursery]
Working mother Donna Hill gets her son Dale ready for nursery
Single parent Donna Hill said her workplace nursery meant she did not have to stay home to look after her son and rely on benefits.

"He loves it. He thinks it is the best thing. It gives you very good peace of mind," she said.

High costs

According to the report, Britain has the most expensive childcare in Europe. Nearly half of all parents rely on informal, unregulated arrangements. The average weekly costs of childcare is as follows:

  • Live in nanny - £170 per week
  • Local authority childminder - £85 per week
  • Five day nursery - £125

The Government has acknowledged there is a problem finding suitable childcare and plans to announce initiatives to tackle the issue next year.

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