Do you rely on grandparents for help with childcare?

Do you rely on grandparents for help with childcare?

New research published by Grandparents Plus found that a quarter of working mothers said they would give up work if they didn’t have grandparents available to help. They also discovered that 93% of families receive some form of help with childcare from grandparents, and over half of parents will rely on grandparents over the summer holidays.

Grandparents Plus is calling for:

  • more recognition of the role grandparents play in supporting working families, and
  • an entitlement for grandparents to request unpaid leave to help with childcare.

Experience in Northern Ireland

In Employers For Childcare’s 2016 Childcare Cost Survey, we found that 81% of all informal childcare used by parents was provided by grandparents. Many parents are grateful for this, with comments including:

“If it wasn’t for my mum helping me out I wouldn’t have a career.”

“It is wasn’t for grandparents providing childcare I don’t know if I’d stay in the workplace.”

Although availing of informal childcare can significantly decrease the amount paid for childcare and enable the parent to work, it can impact on the grandparents who provide the care.

Advantages and disadvantages

There are benefits of using informal childcare, aside from the cost. Children are cared for in a home environment, grandparents can contribute to their upbringing and it can strengthen the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

However, parents feel guilty about depending on their parents so much and are also worried about future care arrangements when grandparents can no longer help with childcare.

“My family love helping out with my children when they can but it can be stressful especially for grandparents who are older and not as fit and able. I feel guilty at times depending on my family so it affects both them and me.”

Where grandparents are concerned, caring for their grandchildren not only puts more pressure and responsibility on them, but can also impact on their health and wellbeing. Furthermore, some grandparents reduce their hours of work to help with childcare, limiting their earning power.

“They [grandparents] have had to reduce their hours in work so they can help us with childcare and I am noticing that it is impacting them financially.”

You can read more about this in our Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey 2016.

Need some advice? Contact our Family Benefits Advice Service for free on 0800 028 3008.

Our Family Benefits Advice Service provide free, impartial and confidential advice to parents to help maximise income and inform you of your rights and entitlements. The can also provide:

  • information on local childcare provision, and
  • a ‘better off’ calculation and benefit entitlement check to maximise your income by assessing your entitlement to financial support.