The daycare conundrum

In many cities in the western world, there is a severe lack of professional daycare. How is this impacting global mobility?

A global shortage

In March 2019, a group of mothers working for Amazon (known as ‘Momazonians’) started an advocacy campaign to pressure the e-commerce giant to provide a backup childcare benefit. The group of nearly 2,000 Amazon employees claimed they were “tired of seeing colleagues quit because they can’t find childcare”. It’s also been estimated the lost earnings, productivity and revenue due to the childcare crisis is costing the US economy $57 billion each year.

Spanner in the works

This isn’t just an American issue. All across Western Europe, and also Japan, many cities and large townships cannot meet demand for daycare. That means it’s a growing issue for Global Mobility, too. Expat families – should they be moving to a location where there is a shortage of daycare – will always be at the back of the queue for daycare. In some cases, they might have to wait for a year for a space to open up.

Stuck in limbo

“If expat families relocate then discover they can’t find daycare for their kids, there are two immediate impacts: firstly the child, who might already have been in daycare prior to relocating, will miss out on socialisation and all of the positive developmental support that professional daycare provides,” says Global Connection consultant Ines Ahrens. “Secondly, the parent, who might also be keen to find work or another fulfilling occupation, will be stuck in limbo. There is no point in starting a job search, if you don’t yet know when you will find a daycare solution. Days might soon feel very long, if the expat partner has no networks. That can easily lead to frustration or resentment and, worst case scenario, the situation can result in a failed assignment.”

Advance warning crucial

“I have consulted expat partners in this situation and helped them to find support through playgroups. But these are simply short-term salves,” says Ines. “With the rise of dual-income families, and increasingly a lack of daycare options in certain cities and large towns, Global Mobility experts need to forewarn families well in advance of the assignment. That will help to avoid feelings of resentment down the line and also give all parties involved much more time to come up with solutions to ensure the assignment is successful.”

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