Summary: It is commonly stated that there is a need for flexible child care to be available to parents especially for those who work variable or non-standard hours, given the 24/7 nature of today's labour market. But Australian and international research shows that parents' decision-making about work and child care is complex and varied. This research report explores how parents make decisions about work and care, especially when faced with shift work or inflexible job conditions.
We ask here, what flexible child care arrangements are families seeking, and are those arrangements available? We further ask what are the barriers to families accessing different models of flexible care? This research draws upon interviews with Australian parents, with many of them working as police or nurses and so directly able to discuss how their child care needs are met in a context of working variable or non-standard hours. This interview data is examined along with some national survey data, and also survey data from parents of children engaged with specific school-aged care services, to include the perspectives of other Australian families.