Parents face challenges accessing childcare as lockdown eases


Working parents will continue to have problems finding the childcare they need for the foreseeable future, a social enterprise specialising in intergeneration care has warned.

Working parents worry they will be discriminated against by their employer if they struggle to find childcare, as settings reopen to fewer children because of social distancing measures
Working parents worry they will be discriminated against by their employer if they struggle to find childcare, as settings reopen to fewer children because of social distancing measures

Findings from the latest survey by Childcare Champions, part of United for All Ages, show that more than half of parents who responded to the survey (52 percent) were concerned that their early years setting or school would not be able to care for their children when restrictions lifted.

More than 40 per cent feared that due to social distancing restrictions, there would not be the capacity to offer their children a place. And a quarter of parents who relied on grandparents to support them with their childcare, faced challenges because restrictions on their lockdown have not been lifted.

Even for those parents with children returning to school on or after 1 June, the majority of before- and after-school clubs are not yet reopening, leaving parents unable to access access the wrap-around care they need to work.

The report's author Megan Pacey, told Nursery World, ‘
There are still a huge number of parents who have no support, in terms of early years and childcare. And I don’t think it’s going to be a fast-changing picture in terms of parents being able to access childcare places in the way they could previously, any time soon.

'There’s a huge number of parents who don’t know when this is going to end and when they might see some return to “normal”. There’s a sense that settings and schools have now reopened and the economy can get back but the reality does not match the rhetoric.’

Of the 227 working parents who responded to the survey between 22-28 May 2020, just over a third – 36 percent - reported that they would not be able to return to work if their school or childcare provider could not provide a place for their children.

Around one in ten parents reported that their childcare provider had either confirmed that they had closed, were not reopening, or had not been able to confirm when they would reopen.

Parents who responded also noted that goodwill from their employers was rapidly coming to an end. And that they were concerned that they would be discriminated against in the event of redundancies or coming off any furlough schemes, if they continued to have childcare challenges.

Stephen Burke from Childcare Champions said, ‘Parents are very worried about how they will juggle work and childcare as lockdown eases, and the impact on their children and their family life. It’s particularly difficult for parents with several young children and children with special needs and those who rely on a patchwork of providers.’

He called on childcare providers, employers and the Government to ‘listen and respond’ to parents’ concerns at a time of massive changes in working lives and economic adjustment.

‘Government must review its guidance to ensure it evolves to provide sustainable solutions during summer, autumn and beyond, and prevent employers discriminating against working parents,’ he said.

‘The Childcare Champions survey provides further evidence that the childcare and early education system in the UK is broken and beyond repair. Tinkering is not an option. The massive changes that this crisis has brought about provide an opportunity to build a new childcare system that meets the needs of children, parents, employers, our society and economy. Social and economic progress is dependent on creating sustainable and affordable quality childcare for all families.’

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