As the UK media get stuck into the story of Childcare chaos caused by striking school teachers, one working father asks what makes today so different?
In the UK an average working parent gets 4 weeks holiday plus bank holidays. An average state school is closed for 19 weeks of the year, when you take into account not only School Holidays, but also teacher training days, and random public holidays. Even the youngest of school children can work out, there is a big difference between the four weeks that the parents are off work and able to look after their children and the 19 weeks that the children need caring for.
David Cameron appeals to employers to allow parents to take their children to work on strike day – but what about the other 95 days – can we take our children to work on those days too? I suspect not.
“Everyday we speak to parents who are trying to find an alternative to what we refer to as the Childcare Blackhole – the situation where the second parent in the family works to pay for the childcare so that they can go to work. It is not unusual to hear stories of up to 80% of the second income being spent solely on childcare” says Alistair Patterson, director of children’s franchise company Kids Bee Happy.
“Too many families seem to be finding themselves in the situation that they are relentlessly working just to earn enough money to pay for the household bills. Many parents want to be working and earning, however, there seems to be a massive imbalance where our society in general makes it almost impossible for a family to have two working parents and a decent family life.
“Family structure is very different now to how it was a couple of generations ago, very few people with primary and secondary school age children have grandparents, or aunts and uncles living nearby who are able to help with childcare. Out of school care clubs are difficult to access, expensive, and some come with lists of conditions, rules and even fines that make your eyes water”
“It’s great to see the politicians standing up saying bring your children to work on strike days, however, I can’t help feeling that the UK would be a better stronger economy and society if the government thought more about helping parents balance work and family for the other 95 days a year that the schools are closed.”