Childcare in Northern Ireland costs nearly half (44%) the average income, compared to 33% in GB and 12% across the EU. This is one of the findings of a new report launched by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast, marking International Women’s Day 2013.
This is an expert paper on the type, extent and delivery of childcare provision necessary to maximise the economic participation of women within Northern Ireland. The report’s objectives are to:
- provide a brief overview of current childcare in Northern Ireland regarding provision (type, extent and delivery) and utility – the availability, quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability of various types of childcare;
- consider the extent to which working parents in general, and women in particular, may be constrained in their ability to access various types of work for reasons associated with existing childcare provision and
- evaluate, with reference to literature and best practice, a range of policy options regarding type, extent and delivery of childcare provision necessary to maximise the economic participation of women within Northern Ireland.
Policy recommendations are presented under the five main areas for potential reform that were identified from our analysis of the literature, data and stakeholder perspectives on childcare.
- The need for a childcare strategy.
- An increase in the supply of childcare.
- Greater equality of access to childcare.
- Addressing barriers to employment.
- Changes in attitudes towards childcare and mothers’ employment.