The Institute for Fiscal Studies’ report, Challenges for the childcare market: the implications of COVID-19 for childcare providers in England, highlights ongoing childcare and equalities crises, according to Voice: The Union for Education Professionals, which represents early years and childcare staff.
General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“The report highlights the ‘importance of access to childcare, both to support paid work and to help shape young children’s environment’, and is the latest in a line of reports to shine a spotlight on the severe financial crisis already facing childcare providers and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, this is also an equalities crisis. The vast majority of childcare staff are women, and women tend to have the most responsibility for arranging childcare for their children, taking their children to nursery, and providing childcare at home.
“If nurseries close, that both limits career options for qualified childcare professionals and prevents mothers returning to work, which in turn damages family incomes and the wider economy as it struggles to recover from the pandemic.
“For too long, the private, voluntary and independent early years sector has been the ‘Cinderella service’ – overlooked, taken for granted or ignored by successive governments, including the current one, which has provided support for schools and to various sectors of the economy badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but has ignored the concerns of MPs and numerous recent reports that have highlighted the parlous financial state of the childcare sector.
“The Government must act now with both immediate financial support and long-term investment to save the childcare sector and recognise early education and childcare as a critical infrastructure cost for immediate economic recovery and future economic health.
“It must also recommit to its shelved Early Years Workforce Strategy and the abandoned graduate feasibility study, and implement and invest in a national career and pay structure.”