Parents count the cost of childcare closures

Significant numbers of parents could lose income due to reduced working hours or not be able to work if their childcare provider closes.

Small child playing with brightly coloured bricks on the floor in a childcare setting

 

Nearly three quarters of parents said they would find it hard to get any work life balance if their childcare provider closed, according to a survey by the All-Party Parliamentary Group [APPG] on Childcare and Early Education.

The survey of more than 1,300 parents [90% of them women] found 72% said they would find work life balance difficult, while 47% said they could lose income due to reduced working hours, 45% said they would not be able to progress their career and over a third said they would not be able to work if their childcare provider closed.

The APPG’s survey also found 97% of parents felt childcare providers had a significant impact on the learning, social and emotional development of their child while 86% strongly agreed that their child’s or children’s early years setting had a significant impact on children’s learning, social and emotional development.

However, just 36% felt the government was providing sufficient financial support for parents and carers with children under five and only 11% said they believe the financial settlement currently on offer to the early years sector is enough.

The report says it is estimated that there is at least a £662m gap in early years funding and that this shortfall is leading to more and more settings closing their doors for good. According to the National Day Nurseries Association, the rate of settings that are closing has increased by 66% since the introduction of the Government’s 30-hours funded childcare policy, which providers say does not cover the full costs of places, and a survey conducted by the Early Years Alliance found 42% of childcare providers said there is a chance they will have to close their setting in the next academic year due to underfunding.

The APPG is calling on the Government to hold a comprehensive review of its early years policy to prevent further closures of childcare providers.

Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said: “While there is no doubt the Covid-19 crisis has had a hugely detrimental impact on the early years sector, many of the financial difficulties nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are currently facing existed long before the pandemic.

“We in the sector have long argued these challenges are a direct result of sustained government underfunding, and as these results show, parents are well aware of this too, with the vast majority recognising that the government’s support for early years providers is not enough for them to remain financially viable.”

APPG on Childcare and Early Education’s chair, Steve Brine MP said: “The early years sector is the fourth emergency service. Early years professionals have worked tirelessly on the front line during this pandemic, alongside other educators, to seek to minimise the negative effects on the learning and social development of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. They deserve our gratitude and support, but parents have sent us a clear sign that they feel there is much more work to be done.

“The sector is crying out for help to continue doing its vital job in both supporting children and helping their parents return to work and help rebuild our economy.”

 



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