After a dramatic week government needs to #ProtectEarlyYears

Purnima Tanuku
Monday, January 11, 2021

They say a week is a long time in politics but in early years last week felt even longer.

We know it’s been a stressful and challenging week for providers but we also know how much work they have done to remain open and operating for their children and families.

Since the official announcement that early years settings were being advised to stay open during the latest lockdown, we have not only seen a lot of questions and concerns from members, staff and parents, we have also seen determination and resilience to keep going.

Childcare providers are going above and beyond during this pandemic and it is time the government recognises this and play their part. 

NDNA has three simple asks:

  • Share the scientific evidence behind the decision to keep early years open in clear language so parents and providers understand the rationale

  • Funding – introduce targeted funding for providers reliant on private income who have suffered as a result of fall in parental demand and reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings who have seen a fall in the demand for funded places

  • Prioritise those working in early years and childcare for Covid-19 vaccinations.

This week, MPs will debate the issue of childcare practitioners and teachers being prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine following a petition which to date has over 375,000 signatures. There is strong support for all early years staff to be added to the priority list.

These staff members are the part of the education sector that now has the most children attending and we all know that you cannot socially distance from toddlers and babies. On top of that, early years involves a lot more personal care from changing nappies to dealing with upset children.

It is vital that nursery businesses remain sustainable in order to stay open. Surely MPs cannot deny that nurseries are central to our society, our children’s futures and our economy?

Now is the time for the government to put provision in place to make sure that nurseries are given the information, practical help and financial support they need. The sector can then get on with what it does best: taking care of our youngest children and giving them the high quality early education they will need not only during this latest lockdown but to set them up for life.

Purnima Tanuku is chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)

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