Childcare use, perceived impact on child development, and information on working from home for families of 0-4 year-olds during COVID-19

Ipsos MORI'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.

The author(s)

  • Tom Huskinson Public Affairs
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Childcare use

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI in March 2021, just after schools were reopened to all children on 08 March 2021, found that nearly nine in ten (88%) parents whose child used formal childcare before COVID-19 reported that their child was using formal childcare at the time of the interview. 

In addition, when comparing formal childcare use with the previous term (September to December 2020), 93% of children using formal childcare in the previous term were using formal childcare in March 2021, and just 5% were using no childcare at all (neither formal nor informal childcare).

Among parents whose child was not receiving formal childcare in March 2021, the most common reasons were that the parent never used formal childcare (26%), that the childcare available was too expensive (15%), and that childcare was not needed as the parent(s) was on maternity or paternity leave (13%). 

Parents whose child was not using formal childcare in March 2021 were asked what would encourage them to use formal childcare over the coming months. Parents most commonly cited the coronavirus restrictions lifting further (26%), followed by childcare at a reduced or no cost (24%).

More than half (57%) of parents whose child used informal childcare before COVID-19 reported that their child was using informal childcare in March 2021.

 

Impact on child development

Half (50%) of parents whose child used formal childcare before COVID-19 reported that the overall disruption to schools and childcare settings since March 2020 had harmed their child’s social and educational development.  

 

Working from home

Almost half (46%) of working parents reported that in March 2021 they were working from home more than half of the time. One-third (33%) reported that they were working from home all of the time, which compares with just 7% who reported working from home all of the time before March 2020. 

In one year’s time parents generally expect to be working from home less often than at the time of their interview in March 2021, but more often than they were before March 2020. Specifically, 10% expect that they will be working from home all of the time.

Around one in five (19%) parents have stopped using formal childcare, or are using fewer hours of formal childcare, as a result of working from home more often than they were before March 2020.

 

Technical note:

Ipsos MORI conducted interviews online with a representative sample of 1,000 parents of children aged 0-4 in England in March 2021. Interviews were conducted between 17 and 22 March 2021. Data 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. 

The author(s)

  • Tom Huskinson Public Affairs

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