New #ProtectEarlyYears campaign launches
By Rachel Lawler
The Alliance, PACEY and NDNA have launched a new campaign calling for improved safety measures for the sector in response to the government decision to ask early years providers to remain open during the third national lockdown.
The three organisations are calling on the government to:
- prioritise those working in the early years and childcare sector for Covid-19 vaccinations
- roll-out mass asymptomatic testing to 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
Evidence of "low-risk"
While the government has argued that early years settings are “low-risk environments’ for the virus, 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.
As such, the organisations are also 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.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “It is simply not acceptable that, at the height of a global pandemic, early years providers are being asked to work with no support, no protection and no clear evidence that is safe for them to do so.
“We know how vital access to early education and care is to many families, but it cannot be right to ask the early years workforce to put themselves at risk. That is why it is vital that the government takes the urgent steps needed to safeguard those working in the sector, particularly mass testing and priority access to vaccinations.
“With many providers seeing a huge fall in the demand for places, if nurseries and childminders are to have any hope of being able to remain open in the long term, it is also vital that the government provides the necessary financial support, both for those reliant on ‘free entitlement’ funding, and those reliant on private parental income, to enable settings to remain viable.
“Ministers cannot simultaneously ask providers to stay open but take no action to ensure they can do so safely and sustainably. It’s time for the government to step up and give the early years sector the support it needs and deserves.”