Following on from the warnings made this week by the Early Years Alliance and new independent data suggesting the childcare sector is at risk of mass closures and “Parents could struggle to access childcare places over the coming months”, the Regulation Matters Campaign (RM) would like to add its concerns and suggest an even greater safeguarding issue may emerge which government does not appear to have on its radar.
The Early Years Alliance warns that parents are set to face “childcare chaos” as new data shows a huge scale of financial losses facing the early years' sector.
“The fact is that the early years' sector is at a crunch point, and unless urgent action is taken, we are going to see many, many more settings forced to close their doors over the coming months. This could mean chaos for parents – and particularly mothers – trying to access childcare in order to return to work at a time when the government is desperately trying to restart the economy.” Neil Leitch, chief executive, Early Years Alliance.
As we move out of lockdown, we at (RM), believe there is a further serious risk to children ahead of us and one government may not have considered.
Many childminders are not expected to remain in business and a significant number of nurseries are also indicating they may not be able to either re-open or accommodate the same number of families they did prior to lockdown. Should this be allowed to happen, it will inevitably result in families looking at alternative childcare options including nannies. Parents will be ill-prepared when they discover that anyone can call themselves a nanny and anyone can set up a nanny agency. Will they know how to safely navigate an unregulated sector and avoid the associated safeguarding risks?
Panicked parents and a shortage of registered childcare provides a wide-open door for unsuitable people to gain access to children and young people.
Tricia Pritchard, Campaign Chair said:
“We fear that parents used to using childminders and nurseries will wrongfully assume that all childcare is registered and regulated in much the same way. It’s unlikely to occur to them that even if they use a nanny agency adequate checks may not have been carried out. Parents may be shocked to learn they can locate a nanny off Facebook!!
We have raised this serious issue very recently with Vicky Ford, Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, and await her response.”