If there’s one thing that parents have a lot to say about, it’s childcare.
On Thursday 13 December parents from across Scotland will have the opportunity to talk directly to their members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) about their experiences of using and finding suitable childcare, what they think needs to change and how government can help families struggling to find childcare.
Good childcare is a lifeline for families. It supports children’s and parents’ well-being and affordable childcare enables parents who want to work to enter the labour market.
If we are serious about tackling child poverty, we need to support parents to sustain decently paid employment and childcare is one of the biggest barriers that parents face.
In Scotland, much progress has been made over the last decade to increase the availability and affordability of childcare. Yet despite these advances, parents living on low incomes tell us that they are still struggling to access high quality, affordable and flexible childcare.
Most of the cost of childcare still falls on families, with fees being a high proportion of working parents’ incomes.
Did you know parents in Scotland face some of the highest childcare costs in the world? Here are some examples of what parents have told us recently:
“I expect to pay something for childcare but at the moment I pay 50% of my salary on childcare. That’s more than my mortgage. It’s getting to a point where it’s difficult to see the point of working.”
“It’s not the employment. I can find a job but can’t find childcare.”
“I can’t get back to work because I honestly couldn’t afford to. I wouldn’t make enough to pay the 30% you now have to pay towards childcare. But I’d like to.”
The future of childcare in Scotland
It’s crucial that these voices are heard in the debate on the future of childcare in Scotland. Over the course of this year we’ve had ‘childcare conversations’ with over 100 parents across Scotland about their experiences of and views on childcare.
As a parent of two young children myself, I’m well aware of some of the challenges, yet it still never ceases to amaze me how complicated and challenging finding suitable childcare can be for families.
In 2012, we still haven’t got it right, particularly for those parents on the lowest incomes.
We want all parents to be able to access the right childcare for them and their children – more affordable, more local and more flexible.
We’re campaigning with parents to create the pressure and momentum for change. On Thursday we hope that Scotland’s politicians will be ready to listen, step up and support families in their call to give them a hand with childcare.