Childcare Flexibility Project

Welcome to the Addressing Childcare Flexibility in a 24/7 Economy project page

This project seeks to understand how Australia’s childcare system can better address the realities of the 21st century labour market including the 24/7 economy. Recent statements from the Productivity Commission inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning and interim results from the Childcare Flexibility Trials have found that Australia’s childcare system does not adequately meet those demands (PC, 2014). A major weakness is that while shift work, casual employment and non-standard hours are common (ABS, 2009), childcare provision remains wedded to a conventional workday. In around half all dual earner couple families one or both parents work variable or non-standard hours (outside 7am to 7pm), while one third of employed single parents work a combination of weekdays and weekends (ABS, 2009). The tension between parents’ work schedules and when childcare is available creates financial difficulties for families, and can potentially negatively affect children’s well-being. Non-standard hours care is usually expensive and unsubsidized, while much in-home care is unregulated and potentially not supportive of children’s development. Despite widespread agreement that childcare inflexibility is a problem there are few concrete ideas as to how to reform the current childcare system to make it more flexible. A major problem is the lack of systematic research on parents’, children’s and service providers’ needs around flexible childcare. This project aims to deliver new knowledge which offers a way forward in the creation of an affordable, flexible, and quality care system.

Latest project news

Michelle Brady's interview for an article about mothers returning to the workforce: 'Hold that job for the new mum'

We have been using picture and photo diaries to learn about the childcare experiences of children. Learn more via this short video:

Michelle Brady’s article on the role of informal carers in strengthening single mothers’ employment trajectories has been nominated for the WES SAGE 2017 Prize for innovation and excellence.

The article can be viewed here. Gluing, catching and connecting: how informal childcare strengthens single mothers’ employment trajectories, 30(5), 821