New research examines unmet needs for childcare and home care
A new ESRI study commissioned by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection examines who is most likely to have unmet needs for formal childcare and professional home care.
The research uses data from over 5,000 households and over 13,000 individuals in the Irish Survey on Income and Living Conditions for 2016. Access to childcare is examined for families with children up to age 12 and access to home care is examined for households with a member who needs help because of illness or infirmity.
The research finds that unmet childcare needs are greatest among lower-class families, households in poverty, lone-parent families and families with an adult who has a disability. The most commonly reported reason for unmet childcare needs was unaffordability.
Unmet home care needs are greatest among working-age families with an adult who has a disability. The most commonly reported reason for unmet home care needs was lack of availability of services.
Unmet childcare needs
The research finds that unmet childcare need is greatest in the least advantaged social groups. Lower-class parents are twice as likely to have unmet formal childcare needs as middle-class and higher-class parents. 24% of lone-parent families and 20% of families with an adult with a disability have unmet needs for childcare. The figure is lower among working-age parents in a household where both parents are present, at 13%.
Households in poverty have less access to formal childcare services. 21% of households with children at risk of poverty have unmet childcare needs, compared to 15% for households not at risk of poverty. 23% of deprived households with children have unmet childcare needs, compared to 14% for those who are not deprived.
Unaffordability was the most commonly reported reason for unmet childcare needs. 91% of lone-parent families and 82% of families with an adult with a disability reported this reason for their unmet needs. 72% of other working-age parents in a household where both parents are present gave this reason.
Unmet home care needs
The research finds that among working-age adults who need professional home care, 83% have an unmet need. The figure was lower among older adults (adults aged 65+) at 61% of those who need care.
Taking account of social class, the odds of unmet need vs. met need for professional home care are three times more likely for working-age families where an adult has a disability than for older adults.
Households with unmet needs for home care are more likely to report poverty and basic deprivation. 41% of households with unmet needs for home care report basic deprivation, compared to 23% of households with a met need.
The most commonly reported reasons for unmet home care needs was lack of availability of services, reported by 29% of respondents, followed by affordability, which was reported by 15% of respondents.
Bertrand Maître, an author of the report commented, “Childcare and home care have significant implications for policies tied to social inclusion. Access to services is important to the quality of life of the direct recipients of the service and to their carers. The Updated National Action Plan for Social Inclusion specifically outlines improving access to services as a goal. This report reveals which groups find it difficult to access care services and the reasons for this difficulty.”