Grandparents step in for child care duties

Date: Dec 24, 2013

Grandparents are playing an increasing role in child custody agreements, as new evidence suggests more and more families are relying on older relatives for child care duties.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found that almost half of the nation's children under the age of three are cared for all or some of the time by their grandparents.

The Trends in Maternal Employment and Child Care report highlighted that in 2011, the number of children cared for by grandparents was almost the same as the amount of youngsters in long day care centres.

Using data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the group found that the number of employed mothers has risen over recent years.

In the early 1980s, around 40 per cent of mothers were in employment, which escalated to around 60 per cent in 2011.

During their period, there has also been an increase in the availability of formal child care facilities, although the associated costs are perhaps why family members are being called upon.

Dr Jennifer Baxter, senior research fellow at the AIFS, explained that more mothers are in search of ways to hold down full-time jobs, while also ensuring their offspring are well cared for.

"When mothers were employed with children under three, four in 10 were cared for by a grandparent at some time during the week, almost the same proportion of children (47 per cent) who spent time in a long day-care centre," she commented.

Dr Baxter noted that even as the children reached age three to five, around a third were still cared for by a grandparent - this is only slightly lower than the 18 per cent who were outside school care.

"Increased government investment in formal childcare has led to more care options, and when trends from the 1980s to today are examined, children are now more likely to be in long day care and outside school hours care when mothers are employed than they were previously," the expert continued.

While some parents have little choice but to employ family members as child carers, others do so because they like to feel their offspring is being looked after in a home-based setting.

People want to feel in control of bringing up their children wherever possible, which is why some parents avoid external day care centres.

For help with child custody issues or any other area of family law, get in touch with the experts at Craddock Murray Neuman.