Saturday, August 6, 2022

“Insanely expensive” childcare costs are forcing parents to take unpaid leave over the summer

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Desperate parents grappling with summer childcare tell me how it costs more than their mortgage, forcing them to take unpaid leave or try to work from home with kids on their laps

Rising childcare costs are driving families into poverty and debt as the cost of living crisis deepens. Desperate parents say they are very worried about the childcare situation, with the UK system being described as “completely broken”.

Strained parents are feeling financially and emotionally paralyzed by the “ridiculously expensive” childcare costs over the summer holidays, with many forced to take unpaid leave or attempt to work from home while the teens sit on their laps. I can reveal.

Some families have already been forced to make cuts on groceries and basic necessities to meet their summer childcare costs and are plagued by worries about how they will pay escalating winter household bills.

Alarming research from Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity working to protect, support and advance the rights of pregnant women and mothers, shows that 32 percent of more than 27,000 parents surveyed say summer care costs are the same or less are higher than what you earn.

The study also shows that four out of ten parents say they take unpaid leave to organize childcare during the summer holidays. But this route is only open to those whose employers allow unpaid leave or who can juggle it financially.

Stressed parents have spoken I about the measures they had to come up with in order to survive the childcare crisis in the summer.

Stella Theophanous, who lives in east London and has daughters aged nine and three, revealed her partner is taking four weeks unpaid leave over the summer holidays because childcare is so expensive.

She works at a theater that paints sets and says her annual leave is up and she actually owes her employer three days, which she’s trying to make up for by doing extra work.

“I had to make a lot of time with my youngest daughter who had autism screening appointments,” she explained. “I needed so much downtime that I now owe time to my company, so I’m repaying that by working longer hours.

“Our eldest daughter normally goes and stays with her grandmother in Somerset which is three hours away and that’s how we usually manage the school holidays.

“But my mum is in her 70s and our three year old would be too much for her as she is still up at night.

“This summer, my partner, who works as a freelance art broker for galleries and museums, is taking the summer to look after the children without pay. He’s usually booked a few months in advance but has been telling people he’s not available for the whole of August and has turned down the work.

“It’s cheaper and easier for him to take time off as it would cost us £2,000 for childcare [for August] for just one child.”

Even during school hours, with childcare and club costs before and after school, the family pays £1,300 for both daughters.

“What we pay in childcare expenses each month is more than our mortgage, so it’s like paying for two houses,” Stella said

“The cost of childcare is crippling year-round and our number one source of financial stress.”

She added she can understand why some women consciously choose not to work or return to work because it’s just too “ridiculously expensive.”

“For me personally, after the birth of our second child, we had to wait until our older daughter started school because we couldn’t afford two children at the same time.

“All we can do is grit our teeth and wait for our youngest to go to school. It’s about trying to get to that time without going into huge debt, especially given the cost-of-living crisis.

“But you also feel awful because it seems like you wish her life away. With the cost of living rising, we’re cautious and trying to sit it out by cutting.”

Stefanie Pegado, who lives in Ashford, Middlesex, is a single mother to 13-year-old daughter Erin and told I She faced a childcare problem this year as Erin is now too old for most summer vacation clubs.

She takes one day of unpaid leave every week during the summer and works late the rest of the week so she can take another day off.

“Most vacation clubs are for kids ages five to 12, but now Erin is 13, this is the first summer vacation I haven’t been able to get her to a vacation club or summer camp,” she said.

“I usually take a week or two off in the summer to be with her and then she does two or three different summer vacation clubs.”

Stefanie says she gets no practical or financial help from Erin’s father, and since she had Erin when she was 20, her daughter’s grandparents are still working and therefore cannot help with childcare.

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