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In the weeks following the birth of a new son or daughter, most parents barely give childcare a second thought. But as the date for the return to work gets closer, the frantic search to find good quality, affordable childcare begins.
Few would disagree that here in the UK there is a crisis in childcare - and childcare costs. TUC research shows that since 2008, the cost of childcare across England has risen three times faster than wages).
The situation is even worse for lone parents, whose childcare costs have risen seven times faster than earnings.
Despite government support (including free nursery hours for some working families and a new government tax-free childcare scheme) families are still stuck with huge bills.
The TUC wants to see proper subsidised and affordable childcare as soon as maternity leave finishes, so that mums no longer have to choose between a family and a career. We need far more government funding for local authorities to provide nurseries and childcare and a bigger role for employers in funding childcare, either through direct subsidy to employees or through on-site childcare.
This section looks at the child care provision that is currently available and how to access it, as well as how to make the case to your employer for better childcare support where you work.