Providing high quality childcare is not enough to reduce family
poverty, a new study suggests.
The randomised controlled trial, published in the British
Medical Journal, found that mothers who were offered a place at a
day care centre for their children were more likely to find jobs
than those who were not, but their reported household incomes were
no higher than those whose children had not been given places
The study followed a group of 120 mothers of children between
six months and 3.5 years in Hackney, London. Places were allocated
randomly among families on the waiting list at the Holly Street
Estate Early Years Centre. Eighteen months later 67 per cent of
mothers in the group whose child had been given a place were in
paid work compared with 60 per cent of the control group of those
whose children had not been given a place. Those with a child care
place at the centre worked more hours per week than the others.
But they were no more likely to have a household weekly income
of more than £200 than the families who had not been given a
place for their child at the centre.
The researchers say the study supports the government view that
daycare provision can increase maternal employment, but argue that
this may not be a route out of poverty unless other changes are
made. Tackling low pay, changing the benefit structure and reducing
the costs of day care to poor families may be equally important to
reducing poverty, they argue.