Baby and toddler groups warn of mass closures due to cost-of-living crisis
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
One in five 'stay and play' groups are concerned they will have to permanently close their provision within the next year, reveals new research.
Key findings from the Early Years Alliance (EYA) survey of baby and toddler groups, which received a total of 272 responses, reveal:
- Around three-quarters (76 per cent) have seen the costs associated with their baby and toddler group increase in the last year.
- More than a quarter (26 per cent) reported ‘significant’ increases to running costs, surging by an average 20 per cent.
- Despite three in ten providers increasing compulsory or voluntary attendance fees, one in five (21 per cent) have been unable to cover running costs using the group’s income alone. Of those, nearly a third have had to dip into their own personal savings.
It comes at a time when baby and toddler groups report having to signpost families to relevant services, such as foodbanks, donate toys, books or other resources or reduce the cost of sessions to struggling families.
The findings, which are included in a new report from the EYA entitled, ‘Hidden gems: An overview of the challenges and opportunities facing baby and toddler groups’, also highlight recruitment and retention issues faced by stay and play groups. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said the ability to attract new staff or volunteers is a challenge.
More than one in ten ( 11 per cent) said they do not have as many resources, including play equipment, tables and highchairs, as they would like. Many said they have had to prioritise covering running costs over upgrading old equipment and purchasing new resources.
The EYA’s chief executive Neil Leitch said that the findings demonstrate the need to include baby and toddler groups in the fight for greater financial and practical support for the early years sector.
‘At a time when the Government claims to be prioritising support for new families, it’s critical that these vital services are given the help they need to continue to offer care and support for years to come', he argued.