Report highlights unmet need for childcare

Report highlights unmet need for childcare

A study has shown Ireland has the fourth-highest level of unmet need for childcare and the second-highest for home care among 11 EU countries.

The research, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute, found that the highest level of unmet need for childcare was in Spain, the UK, Greece, and Ireland, while the highest level of unmet need for home care was in Greece, followed equally by Italy and Ireland.

The findings are contained in a new ESRI publication entitled Access to Childcare and Home Care Services Across Europe, which uses survey data from the 2016 EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions.

The report identifies four social-risk groups:

  • Lone parents and their children;
  • Working-age adults with a disability and their children;
  • Other working-age adults and their children;
  • And older adults.

It also looks at three social classes based on the occupation of the householder, broken into high, middle, and lowest social class.

It found that lone parents and families of a person with a disability are more likely to report an unmet need for formal childcare than other households with children, and that members of the low and middle social class groups are more likely to report an unmet need for formal childcare than the high social class group.

One of the main findings was the role of affordability as a barrier to adequate service provision. According to the report:

“With the exception of the social democratic welfare regime, in all welfare regimes the main reason reported by families for unmet need was lack of affordability.

"In countries other than social democratic states, the percentage reporting affordability issues ranged from 35% in France to a high of 78% in Ireland.”

Bertrand Maître, an author of the report, said:

Compared to countries with more generous welfare states, cost is a barrier to accessing childcare in Ireland and this has an impact on mothers’ employment.

“Access to home care services needs to be improved, especially for working-age families with a member who needs help because of illness or disability.”

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