Parents ‘struggling’ to access ‘inconsistent’ wraparound childcare say their career progression is suffering

Two thirds say the issue is affecting their work life

Mother trying to work while young son sits on her lap
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Parents report issues with wraparound childcare impact their ability to progress in the workplace, with some forced to take unpaid leave and make financial cutbacks to care for their children.

Childcare provision is becoming quite a contentious issue. Not only are childcare costs leaving some parents trapped into living near grandparents who can care for their grandchildren for free, but flexible and accessible wraparound care appears hard to come by. The compounding issues of expensive childcare that doesn't allow parents to complete their working day effectively, is leaving two thirds believing their career progression or pay suffers as a result.

Although this is a problem around the county, parents in the capital seem to be hit the hardest. Research by childcare provider Koru Kids, finds the provision of wraparound care before and after school in London is particularly inconsistent, inflexible, and in 11 per cent of cases, non-existent. 

Rachel Carrell, founder of Koru Kids, says "It’s never been more obvious that parents are crying out for more and better childcare options – and providing them would bring immense social and economic benefits - yet sadly, the government’s plans aren’t going to provide anything near what’s needed. The world has changed, families’ needs have changed, yet the systems are still in the Stone Age."

This poor availability is having financial implications - 22 per cent of London parents say they have sacrificed pay for a more flexible job to balance work and childcare, while 28 per cent say it adds more stress to their working day. A further 19 per cent believe it leads to them being behind on work. Of the 70 per cent of London parents who've seen their career progression halt as a result of childcare issues, 33 per cent report this impact to be significant. 

As a result, parents are taking unpaid leave to cover childcare, and having to make other financial cutbacks to make up for loss of earnings. 

"The world has changed, families’ needs have changed, yet the systems are still in the Stone Age."

Rachel Carell, Koru Kids

Sisters and London parents Hattie and Scarlett, identify with these findings completely. Hattie tells us "I've just had my second baby, and me and my husband have moved in with my parents for a while. This is because we'd already struggled with school pickups and drop offs with our eldest child as no suitable breakfast or after school club could be found. Before this maternity leave I'd already had to reduce my working hours to make sure I could do all the school runs.

With a new baby, the thought of committing to collection and pickup daily felt daunting. So if we all live with my parents, they can drop off and collect her everyday. If the right care existed, my husband could drop her on his way to work and pick her up afterwards, but nothing offering those hours exists."

Hattie's parents also collect her sister Scarlett's two children from after school club three days a week, because neither Scarlett or her husband finish work in time for pickup. Scarlett says "The boys were on a waiting list for after club for ages. When they did get a place, neither of us finished work in time to get them anyway, as it closes earlier than we need. So my mum collects them and drops them at our house before making her way home. She's now doing this while juggling Hattie's daughter, and it could all be avoided."

When asked what they'd like to see from wraparound care, almost half of Londoners said they want it to be more affordable, and a third said they want flexibility. One in five want activities to be more varied, with a bigger focus on homework and homework support.   

Across the country a similar state can be found, with the North-East thought to have the worst provision of wraparound childcare. Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow are next in line with the lowest provision of childcare, while East Anglia has the longest waiting lists for after school care. Cambridge, Bristol and Sheffield are the cities with the most full childcare facilities, and also have long waiting lists.

For more on childcare, working parents of children from nine months old can apply for 15 hours of free childcare, while grandparents caring for grandchildren can apply for adult childcare credit. Childcare costs are so high, 85 per cent of parents report it's preventing them having more kids

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.