Lockdown 2.0 and Early Years
So after the vote to lockdown England was passed by MP's yesterday afternoon, it once again leaves the early years sector facing questions about our immediate future. Firstly we look at what the legislation says about early years, as detailed on the government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
8. Childcare and children’s activities
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare during the national restrictions:
- Early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal
- You can access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers
- Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household
Some youth services are able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.
So, the legislation says that early years can continue to be accessed as normal, well the new normal at least. This doesan't mean that early years will not be affected. With the lockdown enforcing closure of non-essential retail, leisure facilities such as gyms and cinemas and hospitality to close for everything but takeaway food, it is likely that we will see a reduction of the number of children attending settings where their parents work in these sectors. Furthermore, the government is once again encouraging people to work from home, but more crucially for the sector and early years occupancy, is not mandating it. There is also expectation that having experienced trying to juggle childcare and working from home when it was enforced during the first lockdown will have given many working parents that are able to work from home the experience of doing so and the realisation of how difficult it is to do effectively.
Finally, the parents we have spoken to have told us financial restrictions aside, they understand and appreciate the benefit early years settings have on their children's wellbeing and development, as well as genuine desire to continue to support their setting through the difficult times.
We would welcome the chance for parents or early years settings to talk to us about their experiences so we can share real life stories of how people are coping and continuing to ensure the early years sector is successful.