Lobbyists urge new plan for child care

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Lobbyists urge new plan for child care

The nation’s six major business lobbying groups demanded Monday that the government implement a customized day care operation plan in July despite strong objections from child care centers.

“Government and political parties have come up with a dual plan to operate nursery homes, which is offering all-day classes for babies of working parents while offering part-time classes for others, and we think it is appropriate,” the lobbying groups - the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Korean Industries, Korea Employers Federation, Korea Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises, Korea International Trade Association and the Association of High Potential Enterprises of Korea - said in a joint statement Sunday.

The new plan was proposed as day care centers increasingly prefer taking babies who spend less time in the center, disadvantaging working parents who actually need full-time day care for their children.

Parents who don’t have to send their babies all day still do so because full-time care has been offered to all babies less than 2 years old, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Customized part-time care for less than eight hours will receive 20 percent less funding from the government under the revised plan.

“The essence of the plan was to help working moms balance their work and responsibility as mothers, but if the problems [of the existing nursery home operations] are left unsolved, mothers’ economic participation would be greatly hindered, which would also lead to serious talent loss for the country’s economy,” the lobbying groups said. “It is important that the country guarantee women’s career, marriage, giving birth and also child care without career discontinuity, not only for women’s rights but also for economic growth of the country.”

However, day care operators are opposing it, as it could slash profit and burden their businesses.

“Over 1,400 nurseries went out of business last year due to bad businesses, and if the government limits operating hours to eight hours and cut 20 percent of its original funding under a good name of customized classes, 5,000 more nurseries go out of business within a year,” said a spokesman from the Korea Association of Private Nursery, an organization representing 14,000 private nurseries.

In a protest, day care operators are due to strike for two days starting Thursday.

The business groups maintained though, that the plan should take effect as scheduled and said the business sector will also expand flexible hours, increase corporate nurseries and cut late-night overtime.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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