Improve affordable, good quality and accessible childcare and create awareness and understanding on how this issue continues to disproportionally affect women following the impact of Covid-19

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2022 Virtual National Women's Conference
15 October 2021

Access to affordable childcare has been a long-standing challenge for women. In the current climate of adjusting to the impact of Covid-19, further barriers and challenges are being experienced by women endeavouring to have access to and retaining existing good quality early childcare. According to a survey conducted by Pregnant Then Screwed, 57% of working mums considered that their increased childcare responsibilities during the pandemic has negatively affected their career prospects.

The 30 hours government funded early years provision for working parents has always had its challenges: with its rigidity and failure to actually meet the cost of childcare hour for hour and restraints on how the system operates. Nursery provision has rapidly diminished over the last few years and since the start of the Corona virus pandemic, according to research by the Early Years Alliance, one in four nurseries are expected to close within the next year.

As women are those who primarily take the caring role for children, the inadequate provision is having a very negative impact on their choices. Women make up a considerably higher percentage of those being affected by redundancy and reduced hours as a result of the pandemic. They are also predominantly those who take up the responsibility of having to make alternative arrangements for childcare or juggle working and caring, due to children having to isolate from their child care setting when displaying a symptom of Covid-19.

The impact of unaffordable and good quality childcare creates joblessness, financial hardship, emotional pressure and instability to women and their families.

Conference, we are asking the National Women’s Committee to work with relevant partners to:

· lobby for schemes to provide support systems for additional good quality childcare, and to look to support existing nurseries and childminders to continue to operate during the current climate.

· To work with regions and branches to raise awareness of the negative impact Covid-19 has had women and their families accessing and maintaining childcare.

· to undertake a survey of members about the challenges they are facing with childcare and seeking to consult on their views regarding good quality, affordable and accessible childcare.