Survey highlights added stress of wraparound care problems

A new survey on wraparound care shows how lack of access and affordability issues are impacting working parents, while a two-year study has identified how government and employers need to work together to make work more parent-friendly.

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Lack of access to wraparound care is causing huge stress for many working parents, according to a new survey.

The survey by Koru Kids of 2,000 parents in the UK, found 60% of parents say problems accessing wraparound care mean that they always feel tired, 36% feel that they are constantly behind on their work and 28% feel that others are more likely to get promoted as a result of them being more productive, with mums being more affected than dads.

Affordability as well as accessibility are key barriers for many parents, with a fifth of all parents unable to afford to use after-school care for their children.

Some 27% of parents say that wrap-around care does not fit around their current work pattern, rising to 31% for shift workers.  When it comes to using a childminder, over a third of parents (34%) have considered using a childminder but have no provision in their local area to be able to do so. Moreover, 39% of parents of children with SEN needs do not feel that there is suitable after-school care provided by their child’s school.

In the Spring Budget, the government committed to increasing the provision of before and after-school care and recently allocated funding for this. Pilots in 16 areas will be rolled out from 2024. After school experts welcomed any extra investment, but said it is vital to address issues of affordability.

Rachel Carrell, Founder of Koru Kids, says: “We have a chronic shortage of accessible wrap-around care in the UK. I often speak to parents of younger kids who think that once their kids go to school, their childcare woes will be over. Unfortunately, for many families, things get harder, not easier. Many parents can’t access after-school care or can’t make it work around their job, so they are left pulling in favours left, right and centre to be able to make it all work. It needs to be easier to use existing subsidies like tax-free childcare and universal credit on local, flexible childcare, whether that be a nanny, a childminder or after-school clubs that work for their circumstances. This would make the world of difference to many families.”

Parent-friendly workplaces

Meanwhile, a new report – the result of more than two years’ qualitative research – has revealed the 12 evidence-based actions that will benefit and drive equal opportunities for working parents.

Published by WOMBA (Work, Me and the Baby) in partnership with Hult International Business School (Ashridge), the report specifically highlights the need for collaboration between people leads, boards and the government.

The 12 priority actions to drive change for working parents:

Priority actions for the board

  • Take ownership for leading the working parents’ agenda
  • Enhance and equalise parental leave
  • Encourage a culture of openness and trust
  • Listen to the voices of working parents

Priority actions for people leads

  • Introduce structured hybrid working
  • Develop a flexible working culture
  • Provide specialist support for working parents
  • Tailor, flex and promote policies
  • Provide line managers with additional support and training

Priority actions for government

  • Reform parental leave
  • Evolve social policies to make parenting more gender neutral
  • Reform childcare provision

The research with people leads highlighted that whilst the government is responsible for some of the barriers – such as childcare and its respective costs – many barriers are within organisations’ control. For instance, in the research it was reported that complex policies, inflexible working models, ill-equipped line managers, outdated mindsets and gender stereotypes all stand in the way of change.

There was also a belief that working parents are significantly affected by inflexible working policies that do not reflect their day-to-day realities. The negative impact of organisations pulling back on flexible and remote working commitments made during Covid-19 was also highlighted.

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