Last reviewed 29 May 2020

The number of vulnerable children attending early years settings during lockdown has increased since records began in April, according to new government figures.

The Government encourages all vulnerable children to attend early years settings during the coronavirus outbreak, unless they have underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk.

The Department for Education’s latest figures give a summary of attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April.

Overall, on 21 May, 88,000 children attended early years settings up from 65,000 on 16 April. Of these, 76,000 were children of key workers compared with 59,000 on 16 April.

The number of vulnerable children attending early years settings over the same time period has doubled from 6,000 to 12,000, the figures show.

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

"We know that it is those more vulnerable children who often have the most to gain by attending quality early years provision, and so it is positive to see that the number of such children taking up places has increased over recent weeks.”

"That said, with just 5% of all children who normally attend childcare settings currently doing so, there is no denying the significant and lasting impact that coronavirus is having on the early years sector.”

"Even with the planned wider opening of settings as of 1 June, the likelihood is that the demand for places from parents will be greatly reduced. It is vital, therefore, that the government urgently commits to giving all providers the financial support they need to ensure they are able to make it through this difficult period while continuing to provide safe, positive learning experiences for all the children in their care."

Further guidance for early years providers on supporting vulnerable children during the coronavirus outbreak is available here.