Social distancing is challenging with young children, so we have worked with stakeholders on a detailed planning guide to keep early years settings safe. This includes advice on keeping people, including children, in small, consistent groups and implementing hygiene measures. Thanks to the sector’s work in reassuring families, 234,000 children were in childcare on 11 June.
Nursery providers in my constituency are worried that social distancing will result in a reduction in capacity, which for them means a reduction in income. The sector is already at crisis point, so I would like my hon. Friend to reassure me that she is working closely with the sector to ensure that places will be available so that parents—particularly mothers—will be able to go back to work?
We all recognise how important early years settings are, both for children and for their parents and carers. Early years settings have been able to open their doors to all children from 1 June. I spoke to sector representative organisations and childcare providers in the first week of wider opening to understand the detailed challenges they face. We know that it is a difficult time for many businesses, and we will continue to ensure that early years providers get the best possible help from all the Government’s support schemes.