New study on unmet childcare and home care needs

Lack of services and costs to blame
  • Deborah Condon

The people most likely to have unmet childcare needs in Ireland include poorer families and lone-parent families, a new study has shown.

Meanwhile, those most likely to have unmet professional home care needs are families with an adult who has a disability.

The study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) used data from over 13,000 people living in more than 5,000 households, who had taken part in a 2016 survey.

Access to childcare was assessed in relation to families with children up to the age of 12. The researchers found that unmet childcare needs were greatest among lower-class families, families in poverty, lone-parent families and families with an adult who had a disability.

Overall, lower-class families were twice as likely to have unmet formal childcare needs compared to middle and higher-class families. Some 24% of lone-parent families and 21% of households that included children at risk of poverty had unmet childcare needs.

The most common reason for this was unaffordability, with 91% of lone-parent families and 82% of families with an adult with a disability giving this as a reason.

When it came to access to professional home care, the researchers looked at households that included a member who needed help because of illness or infirmity. It found that unmet needs were greatest among working-age families with an adult who had a disability.

The most common reason for unmet needs was a lack of available services. This was followed by unaffordability.

The study noted that families with unmet home care needs were more likely to report poverty and basic deprivation.

"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," commented one of the study's authors, Bertrand Maître.

The study was commissioned by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.


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