School’s out for summer … but what shall we do with the kids?

Are you a working parent of school age children worried about the cost of childcare during the summer holidays?  If so, you’re not alone, 4 in 10 parents who responded to Employers For Childcare’s Childcare Cost Survey last year highlighted that a lack of provision and additional childcare costs can put added financial stress on families during the summer months.

Aoife Hamilton, Policy & information Manager at Employers For Childcare, explains: “Many parents are left out of pocket or paying a significant proportion of their salary for childcare over the school holidays. In 2017, we found the average cost of a private holiday scheme had increased for the third year in a row, to £150 per week, an increase of £10 on the previous year’s results.

“Working parents who do not have family or friends to fall back on for support may struggle to make work pay during the school holidays. Some parents are forced to take annual leave at separate times to minimise childcare costs, but this impacts negatively on quality time spent together as a family unit.”

“Employers For Childcare would encourage all parents who are struggling with the potential cost of childcare this summer to get in touch with our Family Benefits Advice Service on 0800 028 3008. Whatever your income, you may be entitled to financial help. There is a range of support available from Childcare Vouchers, Tax Credits or Universal Credit to Tax-Free Childcare to help meet the childcare bill. Many summer schemes and holiday clubs are deemed registered childcare so parents can use Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare to pay for these schemes.”

The annual Childcare Cost Survey is currently open for views. It is an important indicator of how parents and childcare providers feel about childcare and its infrastructure in Northern Ireland, and is published annually. Click here to find out more or use the following links to complete the survey for parents or the survey for providers.  Parents who respond are in with a chance of winning an overnight stay for two at the Galgorm Resort & Spa whilst childcare providers have the opportunity of winning a £100 Boots voucher.  The survey results will be published later in the year.

What help and guidance is available for working parents?

  1. Family Benefits Advice Service, call 0800 028 3008 or email for free, impartial and confidential advice.
  2. Family Support NI can provide information on what is available in your area:
  3. Many local Councils offer summer schemes for school age children – check what’s available within your local Council area. Contact details are available from:
  4. Contact schools, church groups, community centres and youth groups who may offer activities for children, from sports coaching to dance and music sessions.