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Gluing, catching and connecting: how informal childcare strengthens single mothers’ employment trajectories

Michelle Brady

Work, Employment & Society, 2016, vol. 30, issue 5, 821-837

Abstract: Research on single mothers’ employment overwhelmingly focuses on the importance of access to formal childcare at a single point in time . However, to understand the relationship between childcare and single mothers’ employment we must consider their access to and use of multiple forms of childcare – their childcare packages – and how these change over time. Drawing on a longitudinal qualitative study and employing the concepts of ‘caringscapes’ and ‘work-time/childcare-time’, this article highlights how childcare packages shape single mothers’ employment trajectories. Informal carers play a crucial role within mixed (formal and informal) childcare packages in helping mothers bring children’s needs, work-time and childcare-time into alignment, thus strengthening their employment trajectories. Informal carers achieve this effect by: (1) increasing the total hours of non-parental care; (2) ‘gluing’ together complex jigsaws of care; (3) offering a ‘safety net’ in times of crisis; and (4) playing a ‘connector’ role during employment transitions.

Keywords: childcare; child care; employment; informal care; lifecourse; lone mothers; qualitative longitudinal; single mothers (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1177/0950017016630259

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