Speaking up for families, standing up for quality affordable childcare for all

Childcare Champions is campaigning for a Britain where quality affordable childcare is available to all families.

Childcare Champions has been developed by the social enterprise United for All Ages.

Childcare is in crisis

The coronavirus crisis is creating a childcare crisis for UK families. Lockdown threatens the future of many childcare providers that parents rely on.

Many parents find it increasingly difficult to get affordable childcare where they live or work while children miss out on early learning.

We call on the Government to ensure proper funding to make childcare affordable and sustainable for all families.

NEW: parents tell us about their childcare experience as we come out of lockdown – see our Childcare and coronavirus report and news release

What's the problem?

Parents face a massive childcare crisis. The coronavirus crisis is hitting most nurseries, pre-schools and childminders hard.

A recent survey shows that one in four childcare providers are “unlikely” to be operating in a year’s time.  This would mean the loss of many tens of thousands of early childhood education and care places for young children.

It would have a devastating impact on the staff affected, parents who rely on these places to work and the economy as a whole.  It would have a particularly devastating impact on the young children and families, cared for and educated by these nurseries, pre-schools and childminders.  It takes time for everyone to build trust and form bonds to make the relationship to work.

If you are a parent with children under three, childcare is very expensive.  The average price of 50 hours childcare a week for a child under two in a nursery across Great Britain is £242, or £12,600 per year. Parents with the youngest children get very little help with any childcare costs from the government.

If you are a parent with a three or four year old child, you are entitled to at least 15 hours a week and some working parents can claim up to 30 hours free early education and childcare.  Even with this entitlement, parents are still paying an average of at least £4,750 per year in England and more than £6,000 per year on average in London. And nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are not funded enough by government to cover the costs of the free entitlement.  This means there is an estimated £600 million shortfall.

Why is it getting worse?

The reality is that for years the majority of childcare providers have been unable to build up savings or reserves to carry them through any crisis as government funding rarely meets the actual costs of providing early education and care.

This has been compounded by recent government decisions which have restricted childcare providers’ access to the government’s furlough scheme, and risked diverting some of the government ‘free entitlement’ funding that they had been advised they would continue to receive.  This has left many of these small businesses with little choice other than to close.  Those providers who do survive the coming months are likely to have to make up the financial gap by charging even higher rates to parents.

What should be done?

Despite the fact that government spends more than £5 billion annually, the childcare and early education system is broken. The coronavirus pandemic has made the flaws of a broken system – that parents, providers and employers knew only too well – become even more obvious.  The government’s expectation that life for everyone, and parents and children especially, will just ‘snap back’ to the way it was before the pandemic, is unrealistic.  So too is expecting parents to pay even larger chunks of their income for early education and childcare at a time when everyone is having to tighten their belts.

This is a chance to radically reform how we provide early education and childcare in this country, against a backdrop of massive changes to working life and economic adjustment.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it right.  We don’t yet have all the answers as to what the ‘new normal’ will look like and therefore what a new early education and childcare system should look like. But we are determined that the opportunity is not squandered and that it is a system that is the best that it can be for parents and their children.

That is why we want you to tell us about your experiences of childcare during the coronavirus lockdown and as we emerge from it.  It is our starting point to inform what this future might hold.  Please see our latest report: Childcare and coronavirus

What we are campaigning for

The key features of a reformed childcare and early education system should include:

  • Provision that supports children’s earliest learning.
  • Recognition of the real costs of providing effective early education and care so that it is affordable for all families and sustainable for all providers.
  • Highly qualified and well-remunerated educators and carers and early childhood teachers.
  • A range of work and family public policy initiatives and incentives that support families’ caring responsibilities as well as meeting the needs of employers, and that in turn support the UK’s economic growth and social progress.