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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Childcare 'may not lessen poverty'
Mother and child
About 10% of children are severely poor
Better access to childcare which would allow parents to get back to work may not reduce child poverty, according to a study of east London families.

Helping mothers to become employed will not necessarily mean the household income grows, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said.

One of the government's key initiatives to tackle child poverty is to provide childcare but the researchers said children can suffer other ill-effects if their parents go out to work.

The researchers followed 120 mothers and 143 children, aged between six months and three-and-a-half years, from Hackney.

They found that although more mothers who had access to child care were employed, their weekly income was no more likely to rise above 200- per-week than those who did not.

Benefits structure

The study said that while the trial gave some support to the fact that day-care can increase employment, their results questioned the assumption that paid employment provided an immediate route out of poverty.

"Tackling low pay, changing the benefit structure and reducing the costs of day care to poor families may be equally important components of an anti-poverty strategy," the researchers said.

But the report did say: "Better access to out-of-home day-care facilities for children is considered to be an important anti-poverty strategy, since it might enable poor parents to take up paid work, thus increasing household income.

"Day care may also have direct effects on the health, development and behaviour of poor children."

It went on to say

Poverty 'unchanged' under Labour
12 Dec 02  |  Business
Pensioner and child poverty falls
13 Mar 03  |  Business
World poverty fight 'in danger'
08 Jul 03  |  Science/Nature

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