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Grandparents risk hardship by taking on childcare

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Author: 
Osborne, Hilary
Publication Date: 
2 Mar 2010
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EXCERPTS

Grandparents in some of the UK's most vulnerable families are
risking hardship by taking time out of work to provide free childcare,
a report claimed today.

Research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights
Commission and the charity Grandparents Plus found that working-class
grandmothers of working age on low incomes were more likely to have
given up work or reduced their hours to care for grandchildren than
those in wealthier families.

Working-class women were more likely to be young grandmothers,
defined as under 50-years-old, than middle-class women, while their
younger relatives were less likely to be able to afford formal
childcare arrangements.

Giving up their own jobs to plug the childcare gap had a big
impact on grandmothers' income -- nearly two-thirds of grandmothers who
had given up work or reduced their hours to care for their
grandchildren were managing on a very low household income.

The report showed that while across demographic groups, one in
three families rely on grandparents to provide some kind of childcare
on a weekly basis, among single-parent families that figure rises to
between half and two-thirds. Children of these families are nearly
twice as likely to experience economic hardship than the wider
population.
It said more than half of families with a disabled child live in
poverty or are in danger of sinking into it, and that grandparents in
these families play a considerable role in providing emotional,
practical and financial support, particularly during times of crisis.

It also found that ethnic minority households are most likely to
have a grandparent, child and grandchild all living under the same
roof, which it said often led to the expectation that grandparents
would take on high levels of childcare.

The report, Protect, Support, Provide, was based on new data
from the British Social Attitudes survey, together with a review of
literature on the role of grandparents role in society.

The researchers said historically the contribution grandparents
made to their grandchildren's lives had been "underestimated and
under-recorded", but it was known that it varied widely from occasional
childcare support through to substantial periods of regular childcare
to enable parents to return to work.

...

- reprinted from the Guardian

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Entered Date: 
3 Mar 2010
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