Childcare and nursery facilities are being impacted by women losing their jobs due to COVID-19, according to Rosedene, a childcare provider which operates 11 nurseries across Tees Valley and North Yorkshire.

Women are more highly represented in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors, all of which have been disproportionately impacted by job losses since lockdown began in March.

Research by childcare.co.uk last month suggested that more than a third of childcare centres would be forced to close permanently because parents who have lost their jobs are staying at home to care for their children and no longer need nursery places.

Rosedene has warned that, if these facilities do close, it will prevent mothers from returning to work in the future because they are unable to access childcare and exacerbate gender inequality in the workplace.

The childcare provider is encouraging parents, regardless of employment status, to find out what funding is available to them and to take up childcare places, even if they are temporarily unemployed. The nursery provider highlights both its role in supporting children’s social development before starting school as well as in enabling mothers and fathers return to work.

Alice McCullagh, director at Rosedene, said: “Gender equality in the workplace has come a long way in the past few decades, however the COVID-19 crisis appears to be setting us back. It is awful that women are disproportionately losing their jobs due to the sectors that have been impacted and worse still that their financial situations are causing them to choose between looking for a new job and caring for their child.

“Early years care is essential for a child’s development because it helps them to socialise and learn the skills they’ll need for interacting with other children prior to starting school. If the opportunity to develop alongside their peers is removed because it’s unaffordable, this will have a detrimental effect on the child.

“At Rosedene, we’re fortunate that all our 11 sites will be open for the new term from 24 August, and we would encourage all parents to check what funding they’re entitled to for childcare places. It may be that, with furlough coming to an end in October, parents want to consider taking up a place in November or December, and now is the ideal time to find out what is available to them.

“It is tragic to see that so many providers have had to close their doors because of a lack of financial support or because of widespread job losses across all sectors. We sincerely hope that every child who needs a place will get one and that their parents can return to work quickly, without the worry of who will look after their child.”