Leading early years organisations the Early Years Alliance, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) have today issued a joint call for the government to take urgent steps to protect the safety and financial sustainability of those working in nurseries, pre-schools and childminding settings in England, in light of the government decision to ask early years settings remain open during national lockdown while instructing schools to close.
As part of the new joint #ProtectEarlyYears campaign, the three organisations, which collectively represent around 50,000 childcare providers, are calling on the government to:
- prioritise those working in early years and childcare for Covid-19 vaccinations
- roll-out mass asymptomatic testing at all early years and childcare settings
- reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings who have been forced to close or have seen a fall in the demand for funded places
- introduce targeted funding for providers reliant on private income who have suffered from falls in parental demand
While the government has argued that early years settings are “low-risk environments’, it has so far failed to provide any specific evidence about the rates of transmission of the new variant of Covid-19 in early years settings among both children and adults.
As such, the organisations are also calling on the government to provide clear scientific evidence on the risk implications of staying open for early years and childcare practitioners, particularly in light of the increased transmissibility of the new variant of Covid-19, including data on current transmission rates in early years and childcare settings.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at PACEY, comments:
“Early years and childcare providers have been a vital pillar of support for so many families throughout the pandemic but the latest restrictions have left them and their staff between a rock and a hard place. We need sight of the evidence that led government to decide it was low-risk to keep early years open but close schools. We need better financial support, not just for settings that have to close but for the many who decide to continue to provide services despite the risks and the significantly reduced numbers of children in attendance.
“Many PACEY members, most of whom are self-employed and on low incomes, cannot afford to temporarily close their business regardless of risk and have no choice but to carry on. If government believes early years are so vital, childminders, pre-school and nurseries should be better supported financially to make the right choice for their service to remain open or not. They and their staff should be a priority for vaccination and have access to rapid testing too. Gavin Williamson says early years are key, his words need to be backed up with decisive actions too.”
Click here to download a template letter to send to your local MP asking them for their support to help #ProtectEarlyYears. Not sure who your MP is, or how to contact them? Type in your postcode or location here to find all the details you need.