Despite nursery costs that are around 60% higher than in the oecd, a club of mostly rich countries , employment rates for British mothers with children under 15 are in the middle of the pack.
This suggests that mothers who really want to work are finding a way to do so.
But there is also plenty of evidence that constraints are an issue.
Three in five non-working mothers say that they would prefer to work, given the right child care.
Families had to fork out an average of 260 pounds ($320) a week in 2021 for 50 hours of nursery care for a child under two, according to a survey by Coram Family and Childcare, a charity.
A tenth of households with a child under five report difficulty meeting such costs.
Borrowing to cover child-care bills is a nice idea in theory, but uncertainty over their future earnings puts many people off.
As well as price, availability is a problem.
Just 68% of local authorities in England report having enough child-care provision to serve parents who work full time.
And the benefits that could flow from evening out the gender imbalance in child care could be pretty large.
The latest data suggest that the employment rate for mothers with dependent children is around 18 percentage points lower than that for fathers.
Compared with other countries, Britain has a relatively high share of mothers in part-time work.
One recent study estimated the gains from shuffling men and women according to aptitude, pulling productive women into work and kicking unproductive men out.
Astonishingly, it calculated that Britain’s average output per worker could be as much as 30% higher.
Cheaper child care could help growth, in other words, but policies would need to be well-designed to target genuinely constrained parents and to stop costs spiralling out of control.
Generous German arrangements do not come cheap.
Mr Johnson has thus far been focusing on regulatory barriers to becoming a childminder and on child-to-carer ratios.
Yet deregulation may have only a marginal effect, and points to another problem.
Christine Farquharson of the ifs says that helping mums into work requires child care that is flexible and offers long hours.
But giving children the best start in life means shorter, structured days full of interaction.