Over a third (36 per cent) of parents struggle accessing childcare, and this has a negative impact on their working life.

This is according to the Early Years Alliance, the largest early years membership organisation in England, who have found that government policy in relation to childcare is not working for the needs of working parents.

In a survey conducted by the Alliance, more than a quarter of families with children under five (27 per cent) said that juggling work and childcare was a struggle.

Whilst Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford has cited that “sufficient” childcare places are available and that current rates of funding are working, the survey suggests that working parents continue to struggle, and the government’s “record investment” in the childcare sector is not meeting needs.

The issue of childcare is one that appears to be permeating the workplace, with one in six (16 per cent) saying that inaccessible childcare has meant that they need to reduce their working hours.

As the pandemic has changed the way employers support mental health and wellbeing, the findings of the survey suggest that the issue of childcare also falls under this remit, with one in six (17 per cent) parents saying that difficulties in accessing childcare has resulted in mental health problems such as stress and anxiety.

Single parents suffer the most in relation to the work and childcare balance, as they were twice as likely to report needing to change jobs, with one in ten (11 per cent) needing to leave work entirely.

Nearly four in ten (36 per cent) said that difficulties in accessing childcare negatively impacts their work life, with half of those (47 per cent) saying this led to poor mental health.

According to government data, the number of providers on the early years register has fallen drastically over the past 12 months, with a net loss of more than 2,500 places, equating to roughly 5 per cent of the overall sector.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented:

Early years settings deliver vital learning and development opportunities to young children, but also provide the quality childcare that parents rely on to work, bring in additional income and further their careers.

We urge the government to seize the opportunity of the spending review this autumn to finally show it has the interests of children and families at heart, something it is yet to demonstrate in any meaningful way.


*In order to obtain this research, the Alliance surveyed more than 3,000 parents between July and August 2021.