Monday, 21 May 2012

Champagne childcare, lemonade wages

The average family spends more than a quarter of their income on childcare and we need to make it more affordable, says a report out today.
I don’t disagree. The cost of childcare can be crippling and it forces you to prioritise and make important choices in your life. To continue with the career at great expense (not always just financial) or give it all up because you just can’t afford it?
Reports like this always make uncomfortable reading for me and throw up some terrible moral dilemmas. The idea that childcare is too expensive makes me twitch.

practically perfect in every way

As parents we expect to have champagne childcare, but we're only willing to pay lemonade wages
We want our little monkeys to be looked after by Mary Poppins and we’ll pay them peanuts in return.
Then we’ll complain about the quality of care whilst we mutter disgust at the cost of last month’s nursery bill.
Because let’s face it, we’ll pay more for a cleaner than we will for childcare and to me that just feels wrong.
But I can understand why.  More of us live away from our parents and have no alternative support network. We don’t have the option to split the cost of care between family, in-laws and the occasional day at the child-minder.
Some of us just don’t earn enough to fork out several hundred on nursery care JUST so we can have the pleasure of slaving away at an unforgiving job all day, come home to a screaming child and another night of no sleep. 
The simple answer would be to give up work and look after the kids ourselves. But guess what, some of us don't want to, or can't afford to do that either.
As working parents, what we all want is affordable good quality childcare, with brilliantly trained staff who are paid properly for the amazing job they do looking after our children every day.

But that comes at a price we either can’t afford or we’re just not willing to pay.
So yet another think tank has looked at all the evidence, all the other European countries and has made another set of recommendations. 
The report concludes that bureaucracy is restricting the childcare options we have available and the best people for the job are being put off by paperwork and regulation. Relax that and everything will better. I hope they're right. 

For now I just know that everyone should have access to good quality affordable childcare (fortunately I do) and be able to at least have a choice.

Have a read for yourself and you decide  http://www.centreforum.org/assets/pubs/affordable-quality.pdf