The childcare crisis has forced one in four parents to quit their jobs or drop out of school

The childcare crisis has forced one in four parents to quit their jobs or drop out of school

The childcare crisis has forced one in four parents to quit their jobs or drop out of school

The cost of childcare has forced one in four parents in the UK to quit their jobs or drop out of education, according to a new study.

More than 7,000 parents and carers from the UK, India, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Turkey and the US with children under the age of seven were questioned by global children’s charity Theirworld.

UK parents are more likely to find it difficult to cope with rising childcare costs, with 74% saying they find it difficult. This compares with 52% in India and 68% in the US.

Most worryingly, research found that 23% of UK-based parents quit their jobs or dropped out of school to avoid childcare costs, compared with 17% of their counterparts in Brazil. 16% in Turkey and 13% in Nigeria.

65% of British parents surveyed said they had to make major financial changes, including taking on more work and spending less on food.

About 22% said they spend between 30% and 70% of their income on childcare.

Elvira Grob, 41, a design lecturer on a zero-hours contract, has felt ‘close to burnout’ due to her £975-a-month nursery bill.

Mrs Grob and her partner Michael don’t want to give up their daughter’s place in a London kindergarten to save money because she “loves it there” and it’s good for her development.

In addition to retraining and studying for a degree, she returned to working two days a week when Yoomi – now ten months old – was six months old.

She said, “I work nights, I work when Yoomi sleeps, and I work weekends.

“My income covers Yoomi’s childcare, but I have rent to pay and I also have to pay for my studies. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m thinking about dropping out of college to help pay the bills.”

The first five crucial years

Their world president Sarah Brown, who is married to former British prime minister Gordon Brown, is calling on governments to urgently prioritize spending for the first few years.

The survey has “exposed the scale of the global early childhood crisis and its impact on children in both rich and poor countries” and change is needed because “early childcare is essential to infrastructure of a country as much as roads, hospitals and telecommunications,” said Mrs Brown.

To know more:
“Our £100,000 nursery bill”
Childcare fees will rise by £1,000 this year
Why is childcare so expensive?

This cost of childcare means that those from wealthier and more educated backgrounds enter school ready to learn, but nearly 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their full developmental potential due to poverty, inadequate nutrition, exposure to stress and a lack of early stimulation and learning, the charity said.

The first five years, Ms Brown said, are “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but this one is being wasted on a global scale”.

“Providing for children in their early years must be seen as a public good, not a private test of a family’s financial strength,” he added.

Free funding for childcare, but not until 2025

The poll comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made childcare a central part of his budget, with £4bn of extra funding over the next three years.

All eligible families in England with a child under five will receive 30 hours of free childcare per week from the moment the maternity leave ends.

But critics have pointed this out it will not go into full effect until September 2025.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month, speaking before the Commons Liaison Committee, denied that the childcare system is in crisis.

She said: ‘I think the announcements in the budget have been warmly received by the childcare industry for what they are going to do, which is increase funding for childcare as it is now, but also expand the provision to fill some of the gaps in the existing system and put us in a rather generous international position compared to our peers in childcare.”

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