Childcare options for working parents

Minister for Women, Children and Povert Alleviation, Lynda Tabuya assist a young girl tie her shoe lace. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FILE

Cabinet has approved a childcare guidance note that will help design the country’s first early childhood care services policy, giving working parents access to good quality childcare options.

A statement from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said the guidance note builds on a 2019 IFC study, Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer Supported Childcare in Fiji, which suggests that 43 per cent of the workforce in the country has preschool-aged children but only 8 per cent used childcare services.

Most working parents relied on family members or unqualified babysitters to care for their children.

“Our research has demonstrated childcare responsibilities impact parents’ ability to perform at work.

“This pressure has only come more into focus amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judith Green, IFC country manager for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

“Supportive policy and regulations can play a critical role in creating a market for quality childcare services aligned with the requirements of working parents, and which can also unleash the economic potential of women.”

The report had also revealed that lack of access to childcare prevented women from reaching their full potential.

According to the report only 37 per cent of Fijian women are economically active compared with 72 per cent of men. It also highlighted that on average, lost staff time as a result of childcare responsibilities cost employers as much as $F550,000 a year or $F1000 per employee.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Lynda Tabuya said the early childhood care services policy was also about empowering families, and particularly women, by enabling them to work.

“Endorsement of this guidance note will help ensure our childcare policy is in line with global best practices while supporting working families,” she said.

Companies already mobilizing to explore options for childcare support for working parents include firms such as Vinod Patel, Packleader Pacific and Fiji Airways leading the way.

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