Reciprocity, lone parents and state subsidy for informal childcare

Christine Skinner and Naomi Finch

in Cash and care

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9781861348562
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301615 | DOI:
Reciprocity, lone parents and state subsidy for informal childcare

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This chapter investigates the potential of a state subsidy for informal childcare. Utilising evidence from a study of 78 qualitative in-depth interviews and eight focus groups with lone parents, it explores preferences for informal care and how such care is negotiated in families. The study found that lone parents held deeply embedded preferences for informal childcare based on trust, commitment, shared understandings, and children's happiness. It is important, therefore, for government to support informal as well as formal care. However, the evidence also shows that the way informal childcare was negotiated involved complex notions of obligation, duty, and reciprocity, suggesting that a subsidy could potentially intrude upon private family relationships. Yet, on closer examination, it was found that care was negotiated differently depending on who was providing it, with lone parents tending to favour paying for childcare provided by other family members and friends than by grandparents.

Keywords: state subsidies; single parents; informal childcare

Chapter.  5597 words.  Illustrated.

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