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Charities and campaigners have banded together to present a united front on childcare and early years education in advance of the general election.
A new organisation has been formed to present a united voice on childcare and early years education in advance of the general election.
The Early Education and Childcare Coalition (EECC), formed by more than 30 organisations and charities across England, was co-founded by leading voices and experts, including Save The Children, Pacey, TUC, National Children’s Bureau, The Federation of Small Businesses, The Fatherhood Institute, The Early Years Alliance, UNICEF, Pregnant Then Screwed and many more. The Coalition is committed to establishing an early education and childcare system that works for all children, parents and the economy.
Its creation follows this year’s Budget when the Government announced plans to significantly expand ‘free’ places for children under three over the next two years. There has been much concern about this in the childcare and early years sector because, if these places are not fully funded, as feared, they are likely to end up contributing to the precarious financial positions many providers find themselves in. The rate of closure of childcare providers has increased since the pandemic as many struggle to make ends meet, leading to problems with childcare availability for parents amid rising costs and staff shortages. Reports suggest those in the more disadvantaged areas are most at risk of closure. Labour has announced its own plans for early years childcare, but there is little detail on funding.
Sarah Ronan, Acting Director of the Early Education and Childcare Coalition, said: “The current system is not working for any of us, and it will continue that way unless we see more ambition from our political leaders. Their plans for reform are either to expand the current broken funding model or are so vague it’s hard to know what’s around the corner. The skyrocketing fees that parents are forced to pay have been well-documented, but this isn’t just about affordability; it’s about availability, equal access, and quality experiences for children and for the people that educate them. It’s about the poorest children being locked out of essential high-quality early education and care and a workforce that is underpaid and undervalued.”
The EECC says it will work with all political parties to shape the future of policy in this area. It is undertaking research into public good models of funding as well as looking at how to scale the early years workforce to meet the demand created by the announcements in the Spring Budget. In September, it will also publish a report into public attitudes towards early education.
Ronan adds: “We have this really favourable, really rare window of opportunity to transform the lives of children and all families, as well as the economy. But we have to be braver, we have to be more inclusive about what the solutions look like. The coalition is the route to a better future for the early years, and this movement to shape that future starts now.”