Around four in 10 parents of under-fives are planning to take up their childcare places as early years providers in England open to more children today (1 June), a survey has found.
The survey by the Early Years Alliance found 45% of parents whose childcare providers are planning on opening up this week are planning to take up their place, while 42% are not, and 13% were still undecided.
Around one in five (21%) of those who are planning to take up their childcare place on expect to take up less hours than they did previously.
And almost a third (28%) of parents rated the clarity of the government’s rationale for reopening childcare settings as ‘1’ on a rating scale of one out of 10.
Almost two thirds (65%) of childcare providers said they plan to reopen more widely from today, but a similar figure (69%) also said they expect to operate at a loss over the next six months.
‘Our survey findings show just how split parents are over whether or not to send their children back to childcare,’ said Early Years Alliance chief executive, Neil Leitch.
‘While this isn’t in any way unexpected, it does highlight the huge pressure that the early years sector in England is facing over the coming months.
‘With most childcare providers limited as to how many children they can care for safely, and many predicting that parental demand for places will be lower still, many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are going to face a real struggle for survival during this incredibly difficult period,’ he added.
‘It is no exaggeration to say that the very future of the childcare sector is at risk if the government doesn’t get its act together and provide the support that providers need.
‘Although much focus to date has been on the reopening of primary schools, with more than a million children normally accessing early years care and education, there is no doubt that early years providers will play a pivotal role in the overall recovery of the economy, and the ability of society to return to some kind of normality,’ added Mr Leitch.
‘It is vital, therefore, that the government takes the steps needed to safeguard the future of the early years sector. That means not only providing the clear, unambiguous reassurance that parents – and providers – need to feel confident that it is safe for children to return to childcare, but crucially, committing to a significant financial support package to help ensure that childcare providers are able to stay afloat throughout this challenging period and beyond.’
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