Half of parents say government hasn’t given enough support on childcare post-lockdown as new survey highlights toll on work life and mental health

Half of parents say government hasn’t given enough support on childcare post-lockdown as new survey highlights toll on work life and mental health

 

 

Half of parents say government hasn’t given enough support on childcare post-lockdown as new survey highlights toll on work life and mental health

 

Half of parents of young children say the government has not done enough to support access to childcare since the easing of lockdown, a landmark survey by leading early years organisation the Early Years Alliance has found.

 

A new Alliance survey of just over 2000 parents of children aged under five in England found:

 

  • 49% of respondents said that the government hasn’t done enough to support parents to access the childcare they need during the pandemic

 

  • A third (34%) say that difficulties accessing childcare since the easing of lockdown has had a negative impact on their work life, rising to nearly half (48%) of parents living in the most deprived local authority areas.

 

  • Over a quarter (27%) 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%) of parents living in the most deprived local authorities areas.

 

  • 1 in 10 (10%) have not been able to access formal childcare at all since the easing of lockdown despite wanting to do so.

 

According to Department for Education (DfE) statistics, there are more than two million families in England with children aged under five, 87% of which use some form of formal childcare.

 

All nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England have been allowed to open to all children since 1 June. However, a lack of adequate financial support from government alongside concerns about reopening safely have meant that around a third of providers were yet to reopen ahead of the summer holidays, according to DfE figures.

 

In addition, many of those settings that have reopened have been forced to restrict sessions or reduce their opening hours: the Alliance’s survey found that of those parents who were accessing formal childcare before lockdown, four in 10 (38%) are now taking up less hours per week, with more than half (56%) saying that this is because their childcare provider hasn’t been able to offer as many hours.

 

The Early Years Alliance is calling on the government to provide an emergency rescue package for the childcare sector in England – alongside a longer-term sustained increase in general funding levels – at the upcoming Spending Review to ensure that early years providers are able to deliver high-quality, affordable and accessible care and education to their families both now and in the long-term. Recent data from independent early years analysts Ceeda found that just 13% of nurseries and pre-schools in England, and 33% of childminders still expect to be operating at a profit by January 2021.

 

Commenting, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the 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.

“The Prime Minister recently talked about ‘the spiralling economic costs of parents and carers unable to work without the school or wraparound childcare they depend on’, but with around two million families with children under five using formal childcare, the government simply cannot afford to ignore the worsening crisis that the early years sector is facing any longer.

“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.”

 

 

PARENT QUOTES

  • "My son will not be getting his place back at nursery until September due to waiting lists and staff numbers. In all honesty, if it wasn't for the understanding of my company, along with their flexible working policies which has allowed for me to spend time teaching my son, I may have needed to stop working which would have had a huge impact on my family.

    It feels as if nurseries have been left to fend for themselves and were required to source information for themselves about safety measures, all while being threatened with funding cuts. The government's strategy clearly didn't consider early years, the safety of under fives or the working parents who they're relying on to build back our economy." - Lauren Balasco, mother of a two-year-old and marketing manager, Bristol
     

  • “People have been expected to go back to work without the required care in place or facing reduced hours. I had to ask my work to leave me on furlough as I wasn’t able to work my required hours with our pre-school only opening part-time. 

    “I have since been made redundant and I feel that my inability to return to work could have contributed to this.” - Roberta Mitchell, mother of a two-year-old and a four-year-old, based in Kettering.    
        

  • "My husband and I work full-time and have two children: one in school and the other is two-years-old. Access to good childcare is essential and to see how childcare settings were placed in often untenable situations by the government’s lack of clarity around an essential service was concerning.

"I find it personally upsetting to see the ramifications for our childcare providers and professionally unnerving not to know if the childcare we rely on will be supported to survive.” - Ali Bailey, mother of a two-year-old and a seven-year-old, Bath     
 

  • “We are two parents working from home with a five-year-old on summer holidays and a three-year-old in nursery just two days a week. We have no other childcare options so our sons are basically doing stuff on their own until we have a break. We start work at 6am, spend time with our sons in the afternoon, then work until 11-12pm.”- Victor Gazis, father of a three-year-old and a five-year-old, Exeter
     
  • "Our children attend nursery two days a week and the other two days I work we used to be able to utilise family, as this option has now been taken away from us due to social distancing between households and in Greater Manchester, not being able to mix households.
     
    “We are also currently unable to access further nursery time for our children due to lack of places at our current nursery, and the financial impact it would have on our family on having two children in nearly full-time childcare.

    "If this situation continues we may have to make a decision to take a massive financial hit on our family either by one of us leaving employment for the children, or paying over double for childcare."  - Melissa Crossley, mother of a one-year-old and a four-year-old, Manchester

 

EDITOR NOTICES

  • The Alliance's online survey ran from 30 July 2020 to 16 August 2020, and received 2,081 responses from parents of children aged under five.
  • Deprivation analysis was based on responses from survey respondents living in the 20 most deprived councils as defined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019.
  • According to the Department for Education's Childcare and early years survey of parents 2019, there are 2,177,200 families in England with children aged 0 to 4.
  • The quote from Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taken from this Mail on Sunday piece from 8 August 2020.

 

FULL SURVEY RESULTS

Do you have a child or children aged under five?                                        

Yes: 84%                                                                      

No: 16%                                                                      

How old is your child?                                                                                               

Under 1: 2%                                                                

1: 10%                                                             

2: 25%                                                             

3: 39%                                                             

4: 24%                                                             

                                                                                    

[If aged two, three- or four] Does your child currently take up any of the government's funded entitlement offers (even if they don't take up all the hours they are eligible for)?

Yes, the 30 hours offer for three- and four-year-olds: 37%                           

Yes, the 15 hours offer for three- and four-year olds: 26%                                       

Yes, the 15 hours offer for two-year-olds: 4%                                                                       

No: 32%                                                                      

                                                                                    

How would you describe your relationship to your child?                                                  

Mother: 92%                                                               

Father: 7%                                                                   

Step-mother: 0%                                                                     

Step-father: 0%                                                                       

Legal guardian (female): 1%                                                               

Legal guardian (male): 0%                                                                  

Other: 0%                                                                    

                                                                                    

How would you describe your household?                                                                          

Dual-parent household: 89%                                                              

Single parent household: 10%                                                                        

Other: 1%                                                                    

                                                                                    

Are you (or your partner, if applicable) a critical worker?                           

Yes: 47%                                                                      

No: 50%                                                                      

Not sure: 3%                                                               

                                                                                    

Which of the below most closely describes your current employment status?                 

Employed full-time: 35%                                                                    

Employed part-time: 32%                                                                   

Employed as part of a fixed term contract: 1%                                                                      

Employed on a casual or zero-hours contract: 1%                                                                 

Self-employed: 8%                                                                  

On furlough: 4%                                                                      

On maternity/paternity/parental/adoption leave: 5%                                                          

On sick leave: 0%                                                                    

Studying or in training : 1%                                                                 

Unemployed: 9%                                                                    

Other: 4%                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                    

[If working] Prior to lockdown, did you work from home/remotely?                                

Yes, I solely worked from home/remotely: 11%                                                                    

No, I solely worked in my usual workplace: 68%                                                                   

I worked partly from home/remotely and partly from my usual workplace: 18%                

Other: 3%                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                 

[If working] Are you currently working from home/remotely?                              

Yes, I am solely working from home/remotely: 43%                                                 

No, I am solely working in my usual workplace: 35%                                                

I am working partly from home/remotely and partly from my usual workplace: 16%         

Other: 6%                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                        

Before lockdown, was your child accessing formal childcare?                                            

Yes: 90%                                                                      

No, but they were about to start: 5%                                                            

No: 5%                                                             

N/A – my child wasn’t born yet: 0%                                                               

                                                                                    

How would you best describe the childcare setting your child was attending or about to attend before lockdown?                                                                            

Private or voluntary nursery or pre-school: 81%                                                                   

Childminder: 4%                                                                     

Local authority-run nursery school: 6%                                                                     

Primary school nursery class: 2%                                                                   

Specialist provision: 0%                                                                      

Out-of-hours club: 0%                                                            

My child was attending more than one setting: 5%                                                              

Unsure: 2%                                                                 

Other: 1%                                                                                                                               

                                                                                    

[If attending more than one setting] What combination of childcare settings does your child attend/was your child about to attend?                                                         

Nursery / pre-school and another nursery / pre-school: 31%                                   

Nursery / pre-school and a childminder: 56%                                                                       

Nursery / pre-school and an out-of-hour club: 1%                                                    

Childminder and an out-of-hours club: 1%                                                                

Local authority-run nursery school and a childminder: 1%                                                   

Local authority-run nursery school and an out-of-hours club: 0%                            

Primary school nursery class and a childminder: 0%                                                             

Primary school nursery class and an out-of-hours club: 0%                                      

Specialist provision and a childminder: 0%                                                                

Specialist provision and an out-of-hours club: 0%                                                                 

Unsure: 1%                                                                 

Other: 8%                                                                    

                                                                                    

Is your child currently accessing formal childcare?                                                              

Yes: 64%                                                                      

No: 36%                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                

[If not currently accessing formal childcare] Is this because you have been unable to access formal childcare or because you have chosen not to?                                                       

I would like to access childcare, but cannot: 28%                                                                  

I have chosen not to access childcare at the moment: 72%     
                                                         

[If would like to access childcare but cannot] What challenges have you experienced in accessing formal childcare? Please select all that apply.                                                            

My preferred childcare provider(s) is/are temporarily closed: 55%                                      

The cost of childcare places is too high / I cannot currently afford childcare: 15%  

My preferred childcare provider(s) doesn’t / don’t have a place for my child: 14%             

My preferred childcare provider(s) has / have permanently closed: 6%                              

My preferred childcare provider(s) doesn’t / don’t have the sessions / hours that I need: 6%

There are no available childcare providers in my local area: 2%                               

Other: 20%                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                              

[If chosen not to access formal childcare] Why have you chosen not to access formal childcare at the moment? Please select all that apply.                                                            

I am able to look after my child from home  60%                                                                 

I do not think it’s safe for my wider family: 30%                                                                   

I do not think it’s safe for my child: 29%                                                                    

I have another child whose school or setting is not currently open: 19%                 

I do not think it’s safe for the staff at our childcare setting / our childminder: 15%

I do not think it’s safe for the wider local community: 14%                                      

I have friends or family who are able to look after my child: 13%                                        

The cost of childcare places is too high / I cannot currently afford childcare: 10%  

I do not feel that attending the childcare setting benefits my child: 5%                               

Other: 15%                                                                  

                                                                                    

What would need to happen for you to take up a childcare place? Please select all that apply.                                                                                                                                                         

A sustained fall in the number of coronavirus cases across the country: 38%          

Required to return to work: 32%                                                                   

A sustained fall in the number of coronavirus cases in the local area: 29%  

Other child/children able to return to their school or setting: 26%                          

More information from the government on the science underpinning the decision to allow childcare settings to operate: 25%                                                             

The development of a coronavirus vaccine: 23%                                                                  

Removal of social distancing restrictions: 15%                                                                      

No longer able to work from home: 15%                                                                   

More clarity from my childcare setting on how they will keep children safe: 13%               

I will not be returning my child back to their childcare setting in any circumstances: 3%

Other: 15%                                                                  

                                                                                    

[If currently accessing childcare] Is this at the same childcare setting your child was attending before lockdown?                                                                                                       

Yes: 87%                                                                      

No: 5%                                                            

My child previously attended one setting and now attends more than one: 0%                 

My child previously attended more than one setting but now only attends one: 4%          

My child previously attended more than one setting and is now accessing a different combination of childcare settings: 0%                                                                 

N/A - my child wasn’t previously accessing childcare: 4%                                                     

Other: 0%                                                                    

                                                                                    

Are the total number of hours of formal childcare you are currently taking up per week:

Much more than before lockdown: 4%                                                                      

Slightly more than before lockdown: 8%                                                                   

About the same as before lockdown: 50%                                                                 

Slightly less than before lockdown: 24%                                                                    

Much less before lockdown: 15%                                                                   

                                                                                    

[If less] What is the main reason for this?                                                                            

My childcare provider(s) wasn’t / weren’t able to offer as many hours as I was previously taking up / reduced their opening hours: 56%                                                                      

I or my partner chose to increase the amount of childcare I / we provide ourselves at home: 11%                                                                       

I cannot afford to take up the same amount of childcare I was previously taking up / to reduce the amount spent on childcare: 10%                                                                

I was previously using more than one provider and now am only using one: 6%     

I am using more informal childcare (i.e. family and friends): 4%                                          

Other: 12%                                                                  

                                                                                    

Before lockdown, did you use informal childcare (i.e. family or friends looking after your child) at all?                                                                                                                         

Yes: 48%                                                                      

No: 52%                                                                      

N/A – my child wasn’t born yet: 0%                                                               

                                                                                    

[If previously used informal care] Who provided this informal childcare? Please select all that apply.                                                                           

The child's grandparent(s): 92%                                                                     

The child's aunt(s) and/or uncle(s): 13%                                                                    

My / our friend(s): 7%                                                            

The child's cousin(s): 1%                                                                     

The child's older sibling(s): 1%                                                                       

Other: 3%                                                                   

                                                                                    

Roughly how much of your child’s overall childcare did this informal care account for before lockdown?                                                                                 

All of my child’s childcare: 6%                                                                        

The majority of my child’s childcare: 9%                                                                    

About half of my child’s childcare: 21%                                                                     

Less than half of child’s childcare: 64%                                                                      

                                                                                    

Are you currently using informal childcare (i.e. family or friends looking after your child) at all?                                                                                   

Yes: 45%                                                                      

No: 55%                                                                      

                                                                                    

Who is providing this informal childcare? Please select all that apply                               

The child's grandparent(s): 91%                                                                     

The child's aunt(s) and/or uncle(s): 11%                                                                    

My / our friend(s): 7%                                                            

The child's older sibling(s): 2%                                                                       

The child's cousin(s): 1%                                                                     

Other: 4%                                                                    

                                                                                    

Roughly how much of your child’s overall childcare does this informal care currently account for?                                                                               

All of my child’s childcare: 16%                                                                      

The majority of my child’s childcare: 11%                                                                  

About half of my child’s childcare: 23%                                                                     

Less than half of child’s childcare: 50%                                                                      

                                                                                    

[If didn’t previously use informal childcare] Are you currently using informal childcare (i.e. family or friends looking after your child) at all?                                                                        

Yes: 11%                                                                      

No: 89%                                                                      

                                                                                    

Who is providing this informal childcare? Please select all that apply.                              

The child's grandparent(s): 64%                                                                     

The child's aunt(s) and uncle(s): 17%                                                             

The child's dlder sibling(s): 7%                                                                       

The child's friend(s): 5%         

The child's cousin(s): 0%                                                                     

Other: 20%                                                                  

                                                                                    

Roughly how much of your child’s overall childcare does this informal care currently account for?                                                                                                                               

All of my child’s childcare: 10%                                                                      

The majority of my child’s childcare: 9%                                                                    

About half of my child’s childcare: 19%                                                                     

Less than half of child’s childcare: 62%                                                                      

                                                                                    

If you have experienced difficulties accessing the childcare you need since the easing of lockdown, has this had a negative impact on your work life?                                            

Yes: 34%                                                                      

No: 23%                                                                      

N/A – haven’t experienced difficulties accessing childcare: 43%    
                                                              

What kind of impact has it had? Please select all that apply.                                             

Struggled to balance work and childcare at home: 83%                                            

Had to reduce working hours: 35%                                                                            

Unable to physically return to my normal workplace: 21%               

Placed on furlough: 10%                                                                     

Loss of earnings if self-employed: 10%                                                                      

Took a pay cut: 8%                                                                                          

Missed out on promotion opportunities: 5%                                                             

Unable to find new employment / take up a new job: 4%                                        

Missed out on pay rise: 3%                                                                 

Unable to return to work from maternity/paternity/parental/adoption leave: 3%             

Made redundant / expect to be made redundant: 2%                                                          

Had to quit my job: 2%                                                                       

Closure of business if self-employed: 2%                                                                   

Other (please specify below)  7%                                                                   

                                                                                    

If you have experienced difficulties accessing childcare, has this had a negative impact on your mental health?                                                                

Yes: 27%                                                                      

No: 27%                                                                      

N/A – haven’t experienced difficulties accessing childcare: 46%                                                                  

                                                                                    

Have you accessed / wanted to access any of the following groups and clubs since the easing of lockdown (in person, rather than virtually)?            

Baby and toddler / stay and play groups                                                                   

I have been able to access:  2%

I have wanted to access, but haven’t been able to: 38%       

I haven’t wanted to access: 60%

 

Before- and after-school clubs

I have been able to access:  2%

I have wanted to access, but haven’t been able to: 16%       

I haven’t wanted to access: 82%

 

Holiday clubs   

I have been able to access:  8%

I have wanted to access, but haven’t been able to: 14%       

I haven’t wanted to access: 77%

 

Children’s centres       

I have been able to access:  2%

I have wanted to access, but haven’t been able to: 25%       

I haven’t wanted to access: 74%

 

Crèches

I have been able to access:  1%

I have wanted to access, but haven’t been able to: 8%         

I haven’t wanted to access: 91%

                                                                                    

Do you think that the government has done enough to support parents to access the childcare they need during the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain your answer.  

Yes, the government has done more than enough to support parents to access childcare: 7%

Yes, the government has done enough to support parents to access childcare: 44%          

No, the government hasn’t done enough to support parents to access childcare: 49%                                                                  

ABOUT THE ALLIANCE

  • The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country.
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 members and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.