New survey reveals the challenges parents face during the pandemic

Employers For Childcare, which is based in Lisburn, has published the findings of the most comprehensive survey of parents in Northern Ireland in relation to childcare in 2020.

The McTeer triplets - Hanna, Jessica and Charlotte

More than 5,000 responses from parents and childcare providers were received to the 11th Northern Ireland Childcare Survey and a follow up survey of the childcare challenges faced by parents due to Covid-19.

Their experiences make a compelling case for the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that support with childcare is a key priority going forward. Parents are reporting that they can’t continue to work if they struggle to access affordable childcare, while providers say they can’t continue to deliver high quality care if it is unsustainable for them to do so.

Aoife Hamilton, Head of Charity Services at Employers For Childcare sets out some of the key findings from the research: “The average cost of a full-time childcare place in Co Antrim at £171 per week is higher than overall Northern Ireland average of £169. Over half of parents in Co Antrim who responded to our survey reported that there is insufficient childcare in their area, which clearly has a major impact on their ability to work – and that was even before the impact of Covid-19.

“Other findings of the research show that three quarters of parents were unable to access childcare for some or all of the time during the early months of the pandemic. Where access to childcare was impacted, one in five parents had to use annual or unpaid leave to manage childcare, while over a quarter were working outside of ‘normal’ hours, to provide childcare. Some parents had no choice but to leave work altogether, which is clearly very worrying.”

Parents can call Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service on Freephone 0800 028 3008.