Last reviewed 15 January 2021

Leading early years organisations have issued a joint call for the Government to take urgent steps to protect the safety and financial sustainability of the sector, following the decision to keep early years settings open during the third national lockdown in England.

As part of the new #ProtectEarlyYears campaign, the Early Years Alliance, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) are calling on the Government to:

  • prioritise those working in early years and childcare for Covid-19 vaccinations

  • roll-out mass asymptomatic testing at all early years and childcare settings

  • reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings who have been forced to close or have seen a fall in the demand for funded places

  • introduce targeted funding for providers reliant on private income who have suffered from falls in parental demand.

The group argue that while the Government has said that early years settings are low-risk environments, it has so far failed to provide any specific evidence about the rates of transmission of the new variant of Covid-19 in early years settings among both children and adults.

The organisations are now calling on the Government to provide clear scientific evidence on the risk implications of staying open for early years and childcare practitioners, particularly in light of the increased transmissibility of the new variant of Covid-19, including data on current transmission rates in early years and childcare settings.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said:

“The Government is asking early years providers to go above and beyond in this lockdown and we know there is a great amount of determination among nurseries to support children and families at this challenging time.”

“Time and again, whether it’s on PPE, cleaning costs, testing or staffing, early years providers have been overlooked by the Department for Education. Now, they are the only part of the education sector fully open to all children and must be given priority.”

“What we want to see from Government is the practical and financial support that will allow providers to do what they do best - giving children the highest standards of care and early education through this lockdown period. The sector must be supported now and cannot be an afterthought for Ministers.”