Coronavirus and early childhood education and care provision

When the Coronavirus crisis began in March 2020, all educational settings were closed, except for children who are vulnerable and the children of critical workers.  By the middle of April, the DfE estimated that only 65,000 children across England were attending either a nursery or school-based setting.  59,000 were children of critical workers and 6,000 were classified as vulnerable children.

That meant that almost all childcare provision had shut. It was not financially viable to open and run a nursery for two or three children. Where nurseries have opened, they have been run by a skeleton staff of practitioners, caring for the children of keyworkers which typically seem to be numbering between four and 15 children each day. There have been some opportunities for childcare providers to join forces, but even opening for children who are vulnerable and those whose parents are critical workers has been financially crippling for the majority of providers on daily occupancy rates of less than 10 per cent.    Almost three-quarters of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders had no children and were left with no alternative other than to close.

Childcare for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers in the coronavirus crisis

Emerging evidence suggests that critical workers are being asked to work more shifts and longer hours by their employers but that the additional costs of childcare in order for them to undertake more work for longer has not been factored into their daily financial outgoings.  Many critical workers also rely on a patchwork of provision, particularly outside of daytime, weekday working hours, that includes friends, family and private paid for arrangements such as a live-in nanny that during a lockdown environment, have not been available. While many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have extended their hours of operation in an attempt to support the children of critical workers, they have not been able to meet all the childcare needs of all critical workers.


Media coverage

The childcare crisis during the coronavirus pandemic has been covered by the media here:

Daily Telegraph

The Guardian


Nursery World


Children & Young People Now