Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe
Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson
Chapter 6: The impact of childcare costs for Northern Irish females
Childcare remains a crucial policy issue within Northern Ireland as parents attempt to reconcile their childcare and work demands. The decision for parents of dependent children to return to or access work is directly influenced by determinants including the cost and availability of childcare, and the expected salary of the parent. Essentially it has to pay to work. Within Northern Ireland, recognition of the importance of childcare has been a political talking point; however, it has not progressed beyond this. Northern Ireland operates under the umbrella of an antiquated National Childcare Strategy, which was produced in 1999. It has not been updated since. As a policy issue, childcare in Northern Ireland has been neglected, and as a consequence, there are no clear lines of accountability or central funding for childcare services. In the other three regions of the United Kingdom (UK), England, Wales and Scotland, childcare is a prominent political issue which is consistently addressed through childcare strategies which have been periodically updated since their introductions in the late 1990s.
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