'No evidence to back payments for informal childcarers'
A large number of families use informal childcare, usually grandparents, to meet their childcare needs, but there is no evidence to suggest paying informal childcarers would increase the use of informal care, according to a new report.
The report, The role of informal childcare: a synthesis and critical review of the evidence, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, shows more families were using informal childcare in 2008 than in 1998, although the use of formal childcare has increased more sharply than informal care, largely as a result of government interventions such as the National Childcare Strategy.
It says that, although the fact that informal care is a low or no cost option is an important factor in parents’ reasons for choosing informal providers, it is rarely their sole or primary reason. For example, it says, parents often cite the ‘caring environment’ offered by informal care as their reason for choosing it.
The research team found no significant advantages or disadvantages to children’s educational or socio-emotional outcomes as a result of being looked after by informal carers and some advantages, particularly for children of better educated grandparents. Any small associations identified at age three usually disappear by age five.
The report concludes that there is no evidence to support government intervention to support or encourage more informal care. In particular, it said, it is not possible to tell whether remunerating informal childcarers would lead to an increase in the use of informal care.