Working parents in Fiji can now expect to get access to good-quality childcare options.
This after the cabinet has approved a guidance note for the National Early Childhood Care Services Policy and Regulatory Framework.
The note will help design the country’s first early childhood care services policy.
The policy will help establish basic minimum standards for early childcare services, a licensing and inspection system for service providers, and a central regulatory authority for oversight.
In Fiji, families often either don’t have access to childcare options or don’t trust the quality of services while many childcare providers can’t enter the market as they lack accreditation.
The guidance note builds on a 2019 the International Finance Corporation study, Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer Supported Childcare in Fiji.
The study suggests 43 percent of the workforce in the country has preschool-aged children but only eight percent used childcare services.
Most working parents relied on family members or unqualified babysitters to care for their children.
In partnership with the Australian and New Zealand governments, IFC supported the Fiji government to design the guidance note for the early childhood services policy framework, which aims to foster better outcomes for children, support for working parents and improve women’s employment.
Lack of access to childcare prevents women from reaching their full potential and only 37 percent of Fijian women are economically active compared with 72 percent of men.
The study revealed that on average, lost staff time due to childcare responsibilities cost employers as much as $550,000 a year or$1,000 per employee.
IFC Country Manager, Judith Green say their research has demonstrated childcare responsibilities impact parents’ ability to perform at work.
This pressure, Green says has only come more into focus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFC is pleased to see companies already mobilizing to explore options for childcare support for working parents, with Fiji firms such as Vinod Patel, Packleader Pacific and Fiji Airways leading the way.