We are teaming up with UsforThem, a community of over twenty-five thousand parents and supporters across the UK, to come together to call on Government to better communicate the facts regarding the early years .

Since the start of the pandemic, many people – including parents and practitioners within the early years sector – have been left confused by ever-changing government legislation. With stories coming to light from across the UK of children being shouted at and verbally abused by the general public, or being pulled away from other children, it is clear many individuals are struggling with understanding the guidance.

Victoria McAlpine, parent and member of UsforThem, said:

“Over the last months I have been called ‘immoral’ for wanting my local playgroup to open when restrictions were eased in the summer, and verbally abused for taking my child with me to the supermarket. Parents across the UK have shared many similar experiences including preschool aged children being shouted at to ‘get away’ and being denied entrance into shops and libraries. I feel these unpleasant and unnecessary situations are brought about simply because so many people are confused and anxious about the rules and the risks posed by young children.”

 

These encounters will ultimately have an impact on children. MCI’s recent research, exploring nursery practitioners’ views, found that many are concerned about the long-term impact the pandemic will have on children’s social skills (91%), mental health (86%), personal and emotional development (95%), and vital skills (84%) such as resilience.

An anonymous survey of almost 650 parents of children aged 0-5, conducted by Us for Them in December 2020, revealed 60% of parents were more concerned about their child’s development now than at the start of the pandemic. A further 61% of parents feel their child is missing out on basic formational experiences because they rarely or never accompany parents on everyday errands.

In light of this, MCI and UsforThem are calling for the Government’s upcoming ‘roadmap’ to:

  • Make their data public on transmission rates between the 0-5 age group, and between this group and adults
  • Ensure all legislation and guidance impacting the 0-5 age group is consistent with the data on transmission and risk
  • Provide clear communication on this age group as the ‘roadmap’ is announced

 

Maccs Pescatore, CEO of MCI, said:

“The inconsistent information from the Government is causing anxiety and confusion for many. With early years settings open but lockdown rules still in place, it’s really unclear what the facts are around transmission between the 0-5 age group and adults, and what is safe to do.

“We’ve heard some harrowing stories about how children are being treated out in public – while this isn’t anyone’s fault, it is a serious side effect of unclear guidance during this crisis.

“With the Government’s upcoming ‘roadmap out of lockdown’, we’re joining together with UsforThem to ask for clear information about transmission – and much clearer communication moving forward – so that we can make informed choices that protect our children and take their futures into account.”

Molly Kingsley, Founder at UsForThem, said:

“Whilst we welcome the assurances various ministers have given regarding the limited role under 5s play in transmission, it is clear the odd sentence here and there is not enough to counter months of irresponsible messaging that young children will ‘kill Granny’. 

“A key public health responsibility is to inform and reassure. Young children cannot wait any longer for Government to fulfil these responsibilities. It is not enough to say that under 5s are not drivers of transmission – this needs to be backed up by Government endorsement of the studies that suggest this, in addition to clear and consistent messaging that parents and communities should be taking every opportunity to support early years development.”