A new survey by Ipsos found that in September, the great majority of parents (94%) whose child received formal childcare before COVID-19 were either using formal childcare, or were intending to return their child to formal childcare, if available, by January. Specifically, 88% were using formal childcare; 2% said they would “use formal childcare now if available”, 1% expected to use formal childcare again before Christmas and 2% expected to be using formal childcare from January.
Among children who used formal childcare before COVID-19, and who were using formal childcare in September, the majority (71%) were at the same provider as before, and half (50%) were using the same number of hours of formal childcare as before. Just over a third (35%) were using more hours of formal childcare, and one in eight (13%) were using fewer hours.
Parents using formal childcare during COVID-19 reported some limitations with available opening days and opening times. Just over a quarter (27%) of parents reported experiencing restrictions to their use of childcare since the start of September. The most common issues related to lack of access to informal childcare, and flexibility and availability of childcare places. One in six parents (16%) in working households who were using formal childcare in September did not feel that the hours their child(ren) could access childcare or school fitted with the working hours of the adults in their household.
The survey in August took place during the Summer holidays. This survey found that overall most parents (83%) whose child received formal childcare before COVID-19 were either using formal childcare, or were intending to return their child to formal childcare, if available, by September. Specifically, 56% were using formal childcare, 8% said they would “use formal childcare now if it was available”, and 19% expected to be using formal childcare from September.
The survey in June took place after the wider opening of education settings for children of some ages from 1st June. This survey found that overall 41% of children were using formal childcare, increasing to 61% among just those children who used formal childcare before COVID-19. Over three in five parents (62%) whose child received formal childcare before COVID-19, but who were not using formal childcare in June, expected their child to have returned by September.
Ipsos conducted interviews online with a representative sample of 1,000 parents of children aged 0-4 in England in June, August and September. Interviews for the June survey were conducted between the 17th and 24th June 2020, interviews for the August survey were conducted between the 30th July and 4th August 2020, and interviews for the September survey were conducted between 21st and 28th September. Data for each survey are weighted to match the population profile of parents of children aged 0-4 in England by region, social grade, and the age of the selected child (i.e. the randomly selected child aged 0-4 about whom child-level questions were asked). Data between waves are not directly comparable due to changes made to the questionnaire.
Childcare use, perceived impact on child development, and information on working from home for families of 0-4 year-olds during COVID-19
Ipsos's latest research for the Department for Education gathered evidence during COVID-19 on the use of childcare in March 2021, as well as on the perceived impact of COVID-19 on child development, and information on working from home.