Give parents a real choice on childcare

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Mothers at Home Matter supports widening the options for childcare and freeing parents to spend on it as they see fit (Editorial, 9 October). Liz Truss’s campaign pledge to remove penalties for stay-at-home parents is a positive step, and we call for a level economic playing field so that any funds available to help with childcare should also be accessible for parents caring for their children at home.

Parents do want choice. The latest survey by the Department for Education – relating to 2021 and released in August – showed that if there were no barriers, the majority of mothers would rather work fewer hours and be home more with their children. This was a survey of 5,955 parents with children aged 0-14.

If the survey was narrowed to mothers of children aged up to three, the figure for those wanting to be home more would no doubt be even higher.

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A failing of our economic system is that it does not recognise this unpaid care work as growth in GDP. Work done for love by a parent is not counted, whereas the same work done for money is counted as valuable. If evidence of growth is what is needed, perhaps it is time to reevaluate what can and can’t be measured.

While many mothers find fulfilment in work outside the home, many others cherish this time with their children but are not economically free to care for them at home. One size does not fit all.
Anne Fennell
Chair, Mothers at Home Matter

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