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Disadvantaged social groups more likely to have unmet childcare needs – survey

The study examined the access to childcare for families with children up to the age of 12 Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Disadvantaged social groups have less chance of having their childcare needs met, a new survey has found.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report described “lower-class families”, households in poverty, lone-parent families and families with an adult who has a disability as being more likely to have their childcare needs unfulfilled.

It found “lower-class parents” were twice as likely to have unmet formal childcare needs as middle-class and “higher-class parents”.

The study, which was commissioned by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, examined the access to childcare for families with children up to the age of 12.

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The research used data from over 5,000 households and over 13,000 individuals in the Irish Survey on Income and Living Conditions for 2016.

A quarter of lone-parent families and a fifth of families, with an adult with a disability, did not have their childcare requirements fulfilled.

Households in poverty also had less access to formal childcare services.

Some 21% of households with children at risk of poverty had unmet childcare needs, compared to 15% for households not at risk of poverty.

While 23% of deprived households with children had unmet childcare needs, compared to 14% for those who were not deprived.

Unaffordability was the most commonly cited cause of the issue.

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Some 91% of lone-parent families and 82% of families with an adult with a disability reported this reason for their unmet needs, while seven in 10 of households where both parents were present cited this reason.

The ESRI also analysed the access to home care for households with someone who needed help due to illness or infirmity.

The research also found that more than eight in 10 working-age adults who needed professional home care did not have their needs met.

The figure was lower (61%) among adults aged 65 or older who needed care.

Working-age families with an adult who had a disability were three times more likely to not have their needs met compared to older adults.

Households who did not have their requirements for home care fulfilled were more likely to report poverty and basic deprivation.

Respondents said home care needs were not being met due to a lack of availability of services and affordability issues.

Report author Bertrand Maitre said: “Childcare and home care have significant implications for policies tied to social inclusion.

“Access to services is important to the quality of life of the direct recipients of the service and to their carers.

“The Updated National Action Plan for Social Inclusion specifically outlines improving access to services as a goal.

“This report reveals which groups find it difficult to access care services and the reasons for this difficulty.”