Parent campaigners call for 'new deal for childcare'

Annette Rawstrone
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

‘A new deal for childcare’ including better early years funding has been called for by a newly-formed coalition of parents, nurseries and early years workers.

‘What early years workers need is decent terms and conditions, and what families need is inclusive, accessible, high quality early years education and care, not more empty gestures from Government ministers,’ the Post Pandemic Childcare coalition states in an open letter to ministers, which has been signed by 17 MPs. 

The coalition claim that successive Governments have ‘failed women’ who it says undertake the majority of unpaid or underpaid childcare work. It says that, ‘right now [women] are once again shouldering the burden of a public health crisis and papering the gaps created by the lack of a coherent early years policy.’

The letter also says that, ‘small, community and cooperative nurseries, council-run day nurseries, and maintained nursery schools which provide affordable childcare, support for disadvantaged children, children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities), and children learning English as a second language, are struggling due to the culmination of years of underfunding, and insufficient support from Government in the face of the pandemic.

‘If these organisations shut their doors forever, it will cause redundancies of predominantly female workforces, increase unjust employment practices, and mean children lose out on education during the most important stage of their development. There will be dire consequences for the human rights of disabled children, gender equality and the economy.’

Signatories call for wide-ranging changes including:

  • Prioritising early years workers for Covid vaccinations
  • Ensuring a legal right to shared and flexible furlough for all parents/carers in case of school or childcare closures, or because of the need to shield.
  • Improving the Self Employment Income Support Scheme so that all parents (including those who are recently self-employed, a limited company, or have recently taken maternity leave) are properly supported when they are unable to work due to school and early years closures, and so that childminders stop ‘falling through the gaps’.
  • Rolling out a ‘significant, urgent and conditional, funding injection for the whole early years sector’.
  • Increasing child benefit and removing the two-child cap for Child Tax credits and Universal Credit.

Post Pandemic Childcare was co-founded in January by parent campaigners Nirupama Naidu, Louise O’Hare and Lee Shannon; Nanny Solidarity Network organisers Veronica Deutsch and Miranda Critchley and the director of Friendly Families Nursery in Deptford, south east London, Lucie Stephens.  

 

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