New report warns of pending crisis in childcare sector

New research by the Early Education and Childcare coalition has found that a mass exodus of staff from the childcare sector could leave many people struggling to find places for their children.

According to the findings in Retention and Return, 57% of Nursery staff and 38% of childminders surveyed are considering leaving the Early Years sector in the next 12 months.  An increase in the staff to child ratio is one of the reasons cited for staff looking to leave, with many educators saying the changes to ratios will have a negative effect on their work, and also on the wellbeing of employees, children and families.  Work intensification following the pandemic and higher numbers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are also mentioned as possible reasons.

The report says the sector is also experiencing a ‘recruitment crisis’, with the average length to fill vacancies in the last year standing at 10 weeks.

In the Spring the government announced plans to extend the government’s offer of 30 hours of ‘free childcare’ to children aged between nine months and two years by 2025. However, the report says as many as 50,000 new staff could be needed in 2024 and again in 2025 to maintain the existing provision and provide the new entitlement.

Whilst the report focuses on childcare across the UK, RSN Chief Executive Kerry Booth, says this could have an even greater impact in rural areas:

“Anecdotally, we know that parents living in rural areas struggle to find childcare.  There are many reasons for this including the geographical nature of rural areas, the additional cost of living there and the retention of staff in the sector, many of whom are forced to either increase their costs to cope with rising overheads or to simply close down. 

“This new research will be alarming to many parents in rural communities as it could result in an already difficult situation becoming even harder.”

RSN has approached the Early Education and Childcare coalition to request figures based on an urban/rural divide. In the meantime, you can read the full report here.


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