DfE survey finds around half of parents sending their child back to childcare today

Catherine Gaunt
Monday, June 1, 2020

Around half of parents are expected to send their child back to their early years setting today, according to a survey commissioned by the Department for Education.

Children at Early Years at Bincombe Valley Primary School returning today. Photo: Twitter
Children at Early Years at Bincombe Valley Primary School returning today. Photo: Twitter

According to the findings of the DfE commissioned research, 49 per cent of birth to four-year-olds that used either formal or informal childcare before Covid-19 have parents that intend to return their child to early years settings from 1 June once they open for more children from today.

The research of more than 1,000 parents was carried out by Ipsos Mori from 15-20 May.

Of those children that were attending formal childcare settings before the lockdown, 55 per cent are expected to attend formal childcare from today, 29 per cent are not, 16 per cent of parents did not know.

The most common reason given by parents whose children were expected to send their child back to their early years setting today, was wanting the child to return to their usual routine (58 per cent).

Other commonly cited reasons included:

  • wanting the child to mix with other children (29 per cent)
  • wanting the child to continue his/her education (24 per cent)
  • informal childcare not being possible (24 per cent)
  • the child being eligible for free childcare (24 per cent), and
  • the parent or partner returning to work (21 per cent).

Around half of this parents (51 per cent) said that they expected their child to spend about the same number of hours in formal childcare as they did before early years settings closed.

Around a third (34 per cent) expected their child to spend more hours in formal childcare, and 12 per cent expected their child to spend fewer hours in formal childcare.

In line with survey findings in April, almost three-quarters of parents that are critical workers of birth to four-year-olds (72 per cent) felt that the hours their child could access childcare during the coronavirus pandemic fitted with the working hours of the adults in the household. 

Children and families minister Vicky Ford said,Early years professionals have made heroic efforts to support families at this difficult time and I am grateful for the way they have worked with us to make sure we support parents and keep children safe. 

‘It’s testament to the great impact nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have on children’s education and the reassurance they offer families that so many parents are confident in returning their child to childcare from 1 June.

‘We have been working very closely with the sector as we move towards wider opening, and the welfare of children and staff is at the heart of all considerations.’

The DfE said that planning guides have been informed by feedback from sector groups and staff on the ground in settings that have remained open for vulnerable children and critical workers throughout the pandemic. The safety and wellbeing of both children and adults are central to these plans and the Department has worked closely with Public Health England on the protective measures that should be in place in early years settings. 

The Government has continued to pay early years entitlement funding to councils, worth a planned £3.6 billion in 2020-21, in the usual way to ensure families continue to access childcare places and said that it expects councils to continue to pay providers.

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