Fictional case study 1: reconciling paid work and childcare

Step 1: Understand the dynamics

Ines is a 36-year-old woman with a 3-year-old son. She is a single parent working full-time in a professional role in an SME. Her son attends the local, publicly funded nursery 5 days per week, from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Ines earns around EUR 35 000 each year. Childcare payments are EUR 1 230 per month.

Ine's informal childcare options are limited, as she lives in a large city after moving back to her home country. Her social networks are limited, particularly as her family lives in her home town, some 180 km away in the countryside. She has to top up publicly funded childcare for 3 days each week, as she works until 6.00 p.m. to compensate for leaving at 3.30 p.m. on other days. She pays an informal carer EUR 600 a month in cash. Of her monthly income of EUR 2 916, she pays EUR 1 830 for childcare. That is 63 % of her pre-tax earnings, just short of the OECD average[1] of 67 % of household income spent on childcare. As the OECD average is based on two children, costs are higher for single parents with one child. Considering the differential in earnings as a consequence of the gender pay gap, single mothers can pay a higher proportion of their income on childcare. Women represent 92 % of single parents.

Step 2: Identify gender-aware actions and responses

From the range of possible interventions under the ESF+ and/or ERDF for work-life balance, what ESF+ and ERDF-funded actions would make a difference to Ine's work-life balance?

What data do you need to develop programmes and projects that address financial and time pressures on working parents like Ines? What data do you have on preschool children? What data do you have on parents and single parents in employment? What public funding provision is there for childcare? What transport and other infrastructure actions would ease these pressures?

Step 3: Take action

Examples of possible interventions include:

  • Consider childcare provision as part of business infrastructure for SMEs (policy objective 1)
  • Consider what transport links, including cycling and multi-modal working exist for people who have to cross the city to work (ERDF policy objective 3)
  • Reflect on what additional actions under the ERDF can supplement policy objective 4’s interventions on infrastructure for early childhood childcare