Time to stop seeing childcare costs as a burden 

childcare costs

Childcare costs are massive career issue for some women. They should be a family issue, but generally it’s yet another “woman’s issue.” They are seen as a burden with the costs usually notionally offset against the woman’s salary, leaving very little change. It’s the women who make compromises or in some cases sacrifices in the decision-making process. We have even reached a point where many Millennials claim they are delaying having children for that very reason. There comes a point where women even ask themselves if it’s worth pursuing a career at all.

Read: Gender balance is a relationship issue first

Childcare costs on the rise

 In the US Care.com compared their 2015 figures to data from the national organization Child Care Aware  and found that child care providers are  implementing general price increases.  Since 2013, childcare costs have increased by 15% for the same service to $214.05 per week. A high percentage of women (54%) have indicated that they would prefer to stay at home. Going to work is just too hard. The US ranks 37th place in the World Economic Forum for gender balance with surprisingly low levels of support for working mothers.  

The UK reports a similar story with childcare costs set to rocket further as small business such as day care centers are predicted to face a 300%  cent rise in their local taxes  by 2021-2022,  Facilities with gardens and play grounds will be hit hardest as the tax is levied on square meterage calculations. It now costs around £115.45 on average to send a child aged under two to nursery for 25 hours a week in Britain, a total of £6,003 per year. This is a 5.1% increase on last year. There have also been increase to costs for nursery places and child minding services. 

Many  families rely on Granny Day-Care with some grandparent re-locating to support their children and grand children. Set these increasing childcare costs with hikes in other expenses and stagnant salaries it’s not surprising that the discussion is taking place.

Read: Granny daycare a growing child care solution. 

Childcare costs as an investment

Child care can be an investment

The U.K. based Family and Childcare Trust in their annual Childcare Costs Survey 2015 suggests that it doesn’t pay parents to work. But is that the right way to approach the problem?

Marsha is a Compensation and Benefits specialist, now approaching retirement.  She recalls when she had children in the 80’s that she was in exactly the same situation. Her childcare costs ate all her salary.

“But it’s only for a short period. 5 years in the course of a working life. I saw it as an investment in my career. I watched women who had taken parenting gaps struggle to return to work and keep their skills up to date. We economised in other areas, had less outings, cut back on holidays and all  other luxuries. We bought second-hand baby equipment and clothes. Lpng term it was an investment” 

Read: The myth of men sharing childcare

Swedish Model

Contrast this to provisions for childcare made in Sweden.  Childcare costs are set at 3% of the guardian’s income but no more than $190.50USD (1260SEK) per month for ages 1-2 years old, that drops to 2% for the second kid and 1% for the third. Ages 3-5 childcare is free. All children are guaranteed a place (although there are waiting lists in some areas) and lunch and healthy snacks are included, so is breakfast if the child starts early in the morning.  

So without organisational  support, or government subsidies and tax breaks the cost of meeting childcare outgoings are a significant challenge for many women and men. But it’s mainly women who take the hit. We all invest in strollers, cribs, cots, baby grows and other newborn paraphernalia which are barely used. True they can be passed on or sold but we don’t think of these costs as a waste of money, but a necessary investment for the well-being our children.

Another option could be to view childcare costs as a short-term but necessary overhead to protect our own future financial well-being. And if our own futures are protected then we can also take care of our children.  

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