Last reviewed 3 September 2020

Half of parents say that the Government has not done enough to support them accessing childcare during the pandemic, according to a new survey by the Early Years Alliance.

The Early Years Alliance surveyed more than 2,000 parents of children aged under five in England about their experiences after the lockdown period.

One in ten of the respondents revealed that they have not been able to access formal childcare at all since the easing of lockdown. The survey also suggests that a third of parents have seen a negative impact on their work life due to difficulties accessing childcare.

In addition, over a quarter (27%) of respondents said that difficulties accessing childcare since the easing of lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, rising to over a third (36 per cent) of parents living in the most deprived local authority areas.

Early years providers in England have been allowed to open to all children since 1 June but around a third of settings did not reopen ahead of the summer holidays, according to figures from the Department for Education (DfE). Many of the settings that have reopened have been forced to restrict sessions or reduce their opening hours.

The Early Years Alliance is calling on the Government to provide an emergency rescue package for the childcare sector in England at the upcoming Spending Review, alongside a longer-term sustained increase in general funding levels.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“It is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure that the parents of young children are able to access the childcare they need.”

“For this to happen, the Government simply must provide greater financial support to the early years sector so that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are able to keep their doors opens and provide the care and education that families rely on.”

“It’s clear from our survey that many parents, and particularly those living in more disadvantaged areas, are already feeling the strain of reduced access to childcare – both in terms of work pressures and the impact on their mental health. With a quarter of providers fearing closure by next year, this situation is only going to get worse unless the Government takes urgent action.”

“As such, we urge the Chancellor to use the upcoming Spending Review as an opportunity to commit to the investment that the early years needs to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. The alternative is a sector that may never recover from the impact of the pandemic, and hundreds of thousands of parents left without the support they need at the time they need it most.”