Covid-19 and childcare: Coram policy experts submit evidence to Parliament

Published: Friday 22nd May 2020

The closure of childcare settings as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has caused immediate issues for many families as they struggle to balance work and childcare, Coram policy experts have advised in written evidence published today.

Coram Family and Childcare (CFC) and CoramBAAF were invited to submit evidence to the Petitions Committee’s inquiry on the impact of lockdown on maternal mental health, access to childcare, and maternity pay. The Committee considers petitions submitted on Parliament, and the inquiry was prompted by a petition calling on the Government to  'Extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19', which has gathered over 220,000 signatures.

Coram’s evidence highlights that even before the pandemic there were persistent shortages in the availability of childcare. In Coram Family and Childcare’s Childcare Survey 2020, it was reported that only just over half of local areas had enough childcare for parents working full time and that shortages were more acute for disabled children and parents working outside of the typical 9 to 5 day, while only a quarter of local areas had enough childcare to meet demand.

It also sets out how families are now often taking on informal arrangements that enable them to work or take on other responsibilities, with all childcare settings having been asked to close as part of the government response apart from those providing care for key workers and children identified as vulnerable.  

It states: “These issues become even more challenging when children have been abused and neglected and have a wide range of physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural difficulties as a consequence. Where family members have taken on the long term care of the child/ren, other family relationships may have become tense because of the issues of abuse and neglect and the blame and conflict that results. For those carers, turning to other family members for support can be particularly difficult if not impossible.”

The Coram evidence concludes: “While adults understandably are the prime focus of the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot ignore the direct and long-term impact on children of all ages. And young children must have their rightful place in the urgent development of a response from government to these critical issues.”

You can read Coram’s submitted evidence in full here.

To find out more about the Petitions Committee, click here.