Poll finds support for early years investment

Polling by the Early Education and Childcare Coalition and More in Common shows a big appetite for more investment in early years from the general public.

Close up of child's hands playing with colorful plastic bricks and red motocicle at the table. Toddler having fun and building out of bright constructor bricks. Early years childcare

 

A majority of all voters [68%] think the next government should prioritise early education and childcare as much as primary school, with the same number saying more funding for early years would benefit the country in the long-term, according to a survey by the Early Education and Childcare Coalition (EECC) and More in Common.

A further 44% of voters thought more investment in early education and childcare would actually save the country money in the long-run.

The EECC’s annual Pulse Check report, based on a survey of 2,032 voters carried out by More in Common, looks at their attitudes to early education and childcare and found that 67% think that early education and childcare is good for the whole country, up from 60% last year, but many are concerned about the lack of places across England:

● 81% of parents of children under the age of five are concerned about the availability of places
● 77% of parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are concerned about the availability of places, compared to 59% of all parents
● 78% of Black voters and 64% of Asian voters are concerned about the availability of places compared to 52% of White voters
● 73% of all voters support increasing funding for early education so providers can offer more places
● 80% of voters think all children should be able to access early education and childcare no matter where they live.

Sarah Ronan, Director of the EECC, said: “Voters know that early education and childcare is good for all of us and they want to see policies that recognise that. Unfortunately, despite the clear benefits to children’s learning and parents’ ability to work, there is a real inequality in how families can access the provision they need with far too many living in ‘childcare deserts’ where availability of places is low. We want to see all political parties guarantee that every child can access a place if they need it but that starts with fair and sustainable funding for providers so they can deliver the high-quality education and childcare that will support children to develop and thrive and parents to work.”

The polling also showed strong support for policies that would give parents more choice in how they balanced parenting with work:

● 60% of all voters supported extending statutory paternity and maternity leave to give parents more choice in how they care for their children in the early years. Just 12% were opposed to this.
● 80% of parents with children under the age of five were in favour of extending parental leave rights.
● 71% of all voters supported greater flexible working rights in order to give parents more choice about balancing parenting and work, with just 5% opposed.
● Support for greater flexible working rights was highest among parents of children with SEND with 94% in favour, while 81% of single parents also supported such a move.

Earlier findings from the research released last month found significant support for widening the eligibility criteria for current childcare offers. Almost three-quarters (71%) of voters think all children should have access to early education and childcare regardless of their parents’ employment status, while 59% think all children should have access to a place regardless of their parents’ immigration status. A further 66% think all parents in training or study should be allowed to access the current funded hour schemes.



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