Stress in the early years and childcare sector


Smiling woman and baby

For many early years practitioners, working with children is a vocation. But despite the rewards it brings, working in the childcare sector can be hugely stressful.

Too much paperwork, low pay and financial instability due to a lack of proper government funding, can all place huge demands on childcare practitioners' mental health and wellbeing.

Here we bring together mental health-related resouces such as research, articles, mini guides and links to help support you in your work and run your business effectively.

Minds Matter report

Research into childcare and mental health

In April 2018, our landmark Minds Matter survey looked at the impact of working in childcare and the early years sector on practitioners' mental health.

More than 2,000 of you took part and it showed that most of you are often stressed about work, and that work-related mental health issues have had an impact on your personal relationships.

It showed that a quarter of you are thinking about leaving the early years sector entirely.

Read the full Minds Matter survey findings

Writing in Nursery Management Today, Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch said: "According to our survey, there were two main sources of stress among practitioners. The first, unsurprisingly, was financial pressures ... But when it comes to protecting the mental wellbeing of practitioners, there is another key area of concern. That's workload, and in particular, the levels of paperwork and administration that practitioners are having to deal with daily.

"According to our survey, it is this above all other factors that puts the most pressure on those working in the sector, with 76 per cent of respondents citing it as a regular source of stress."

Read the full piece by Neil Leitch in Nursery Management Today - July/August 2018

What we're doing

We've worked hard to get buy-in from multiple government departments into tackling workload pressures.

After we published Minds Matter, we contacted Ofsted and the DfE to discuss exactly what we could do to tackle the issues identified by our survey and we are delighted to confirm that we're now working with both organisations on a joint Early Years Workload project to better understand and address the concerns around workload, and particularly paperwork and administration, raised in our report.

This initiative includes a series of focus groups held across the country, followed by a sector-wide online survey in the spring to ensure that every single practitioner has the opportunity feed back their views on this important issue.

To keep up to date on our latest progress on this, make sure you are following our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Resources for you

Blogs and articles

Happy staff, happy setting (Alliance blog)

Dealing with Stress  — Rob McGeal, policy advisor at the Health and Safety Executive, explains how to mitigate the impact of workplace stress on staff (Under 5 magazine article)

Happy children — taking care of young people's welll being (Alliance blog)

Stretch and unwind — YogaBugs share some ideas about why and how you can bring yoga practices into your setting (Under 5 magazine article)

Publications and mini guides

Setting the record straight  (Under 5 magazine) — A quick guide to keeping records and all the paperwork needed to meet requirements

— Developing effective team work (Publication)

— We have a wide range of publications and resources to support your work in our online shop

— Developing a business plan and budget* — An effective business plan and budget will help you achieve your setting's aims and be financially ready for the future. 

*This is only available to Alliance members and can be downloaded for free from the Business Management section in the Members' Area

Further help

Health and Safety Executive — Work-related stress

MIND — How to Manage Stress

NHS Choices — How to deal with stress and when to ask for help

In the news

Nursery group holds a special day to show appreciation for its nursery practitioners

"There's no time to breathe" — the nursery workers trapped on the minimum wage for life as overtime and targets soar 


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