Based on a survey of more than 1,000 parents and childcare professionals, Findababysitter.com’s childcare report reveals that 49 per cent believe the Government still isn’t doing enough to reduce childcare costs and help them return to work.
According to the third annual report from Findababysitter.com, a website that helps match parents with childcarers, parents aged 25-34 are least impressed with the Government’s efforts, as are those living in Scotland and London.
However, compared to this time two years ago, parents’ regard for Government policies has risen, suggests the survey. In 2013, 18 per cent of parents believed the Government was doing enough in terms of childcare support, compared to 27 per cent this year.
Despite this, almost a quarter of parents surveyed are not aware of the Government’s policies on childcare.
According to the report, the cost of childcare continues to be the greatest concern for parents and the biggest barrier preventing them from working.
The safety of childcare provision, the location and availability were also top concerns cited by parents who took part in the survey.
When asked about the use of digital technology, childcare professionals revealed they use electronic devices with children less often than parents do with their own children.
Nearly eight out of ten parents said they believed that using technology regularly enhanced their child’s development.
Tom Harrow, chief executive of Findababysitter.com, said, ‘Although Government policies are improving, they still have a long way to go to make a real difference.
‘This year we want to see more businesses offering better flexible working hours, and treating mums and dads equally when it comes to childcare - it’s a joint responsibility, and that should be reflected in the workplace.’
Commenting on Findababysitter.com’s report, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, ‘We agree that the Government must do more to support parents struggling with the cost of childcare – but it’s important to recognise that short-term solutions, such as the new tax-free childcare scheme, are not simply enough. The Government must tackle the underlying cause of childcare cost rises: insufficient sector funding.
‘Our research has shown that the free childcare scheme is underfunded by around 20 per cent, a shortfall that has left many early years providers with no choice but to increase the cost of paid-for hours. As a result, we now have a situation where parents are continuing to struggle with childcare costs, while providers are still forced to rely on fundraising and the work of volunteers to stay afloat, and cannot afford to pay staff much more than minimum wage.
‘This cannot continue. It is time for the government to accept that, if it wants to build an affordable, sustainable, quality childcare sector, it must invest what’s needed.’