From rising childcare costs to benefit delays, for many, the summer holidays are far from fun. It's time we changed thatby Emily Morris / July 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
School’s out for summer, but it’s not good news for everyone. The six-week summer stretch off might sound fun, but for low-income parents, it’s a logistical and financial nightmare—and for many children, it means going desperately hungry.
For working parents, there’s the childcare issue. I often hear people counting down the months or even years until their small children start school, believing things will get easier when they do. But the fact is that school holiday childcare is expensive, complicated and often very hard to find.
Most schools are off for 13 weeks a year, whereas the average job offers four weeks’ annual leave. That’s a lot of weeks of children having no one to look after them.
I’m a single parent, and I got a big shock when my son started school nursery at 3. Private nursery had been my biggest outlay after rent, but it was designed for working parents.
Suddenly, I was expected to be around for 3pm pick-ups, midday assemblies and morning story time—and when the school broke up for the holidays, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
I was lucky enough to get a job working from home, but still found myself juggling deadlines and conference calls with a bored little boy. Mum helped me out when she could, but she lived 45 miles away and had her own commitments.
One summer, there was a soccer school at the local recreation ground. It wasn’t free, but it was somewhere I could send my son while I worked. The only trouble was that he wasn’t into football.
Still, I found myself dropping him off, leaving him in the care of a shouty instructor, for a day of doing something he didn’t like. It finished at 3:30pm—a pick-up time that I could manage, but that would have been useless for most 9-5 workers.
That was six years ago, but the lack of school holiday childcare is still a huge issue. In a recent survey by the Family and Childcare Trust, only one in four local authorities said that there was sufficient childcare available in their locality.
Rising childcare costs
Even where childcare is readily available, it’s unaffordable for many. Further research by…