COVID-19: EARLY YEARS FAQS

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Early Years Providers – Coronavirus (Covid-19)

 Frequently asked questions – Issue no 2 – 23 March 2020

  Is it the settings choice, if they stay open for identified groups of children?

Yes it is the provider’s choice within Public Health England and Department for Education guidelines. Settings are required to close if they are not catering for children identified within the guidance.

Where do families find out which childcare settings are open?

Please contact childrens.information@cumbria.gov.uk

What do parents of key workers/vulnerable children do if our provision is closing?

Parents should be signposted to other local provision or email childrens.information@cumbria.gov.uk

Will I receive free entitlement funding if the child would normally attend somewhere else?

The government have not yet confirmed if funding will be available in this situation. In the interim, offer the funded place and keep a record of what has been provided. Please ensure you only offer what the child is entitled too. Any additional hours should be funded by the family.

What is the legal position if we are directed to close by the local authority?

If you are asked to close the Local Authority, the LA would be using Government powers devolved through legislation, such powers are currently going through Parliament.

Are we being told to close? Insurance companies are seeking written clarification.

The government have asked Schools and Early Years providers to close as of 20th March 2020. However, childcare will still be needed for Key Worker’s children and those identified as vulnerable children. Therefore as of the 20th March it is the decision of the provider.

We are concerned that if we stay open insurance will not pay out.

Providers should clarify with their insurance company as to the terms and conditions of their policy.

We have a child due to start after Easter, Parent an NHS worker. Will she still get funding for this child?

The Government have confirmed that free entitlement funding for summer 2020 will continue to be paid even if the provision is closed.

Can parents of non-funded children be asked to pay a retainer whilst nursery is shut?

This is a provider decision, providers should refer to their payment policy.

  Will childcare providers be allowed to take ALL children and not just children of key workers?

No.

I have some home educated children that I childmind - primary and secondary age. Am I required to close to them too?

Yes. Unless they are children of key workers/vulnerable children.

If providers take older children do they charge the parent?

Yes at the moment, please monitor Government announcements as to how individuals will be supported financially.

Will setting staff working as "volunteers" be paid if they work in the hubs?

Term & Conditions regarding work as volunteers will be clarified once hubs are established

 Are my children able to join me if I am a member of staff who is deployed to another setting to provide priority childcare hub?

Yes. As long as everyone meets the health criteria for leaving the family home and childcare ratio’s.

If we were told last week not to allow people into our settings, is it OK to allow visitors if we are a priority childcare hub?

The same principles apply about minimising external visitors.

Are children eligible for care if only one parent is a key worker and the other parent could offer childcare instead of attending their place of work?

Yes. The Government has asked parents to keep their children at home wherever possible and the childcare is available to those whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response and whose children absolutely need this provision.

If they volunteer, as a keyworker, their childcare is covered but they wouldn’t be forced to take that childcare if they had other arrangements?

As a key worker, the Government advice equally applies. Therefore a volunteer would not have to use the childcare.

Are early years, primary and secondary pupils going to be attending the same schools/priority childcare hubs?

This could be the case in some settings and will depend upon the specific context. All provision will be organised to suit those attending and phases will work together to put children first.

The term ‘volunteer’ has been used in relation to staffing during the current crisis. How will this work for staff who work in hubs?

The key will be knowing what our workforce capacity is and to build a resilient model. Therefore all schools/hubs will need to update their capacity on a daily basis. We are developing the systems to capture this.

If a child has an EHCP with significant needs to be met, how do we safeguard and support appropriately?

Our communications to all parents affirms the need for them to keep children at home if at all possible. Schools and Early Years provisions/hubs will need to risk assess on a case by case basis and consider availability of appropriately experienced staff. They will also need to keep this under review, as staffing and capacity may change, and the Schools and Early Years provisions/hubs might not be the best place for the care of the child. The Inclusion team will work together with you to support on developing arrangements where needed.

What hours will settings be expected to be open?

This is an emergency situation. It will depend on local context and capacity and will need to be determined locally.

Do we have to be open over the Easter holidays?

In his announcement on 19 March 2020, the secretary of state stated: “Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.” This announcement does not indicate that it will be mandatory. However, as many key workers have had their scheduled leave cancelled, we will need to offer childcare for keyworkers over this period. Staff flexibility, or use or rotas to take leave either side of the Easter holidays may assist in developing a local solution. Capacity and demand will become clearer on Monday to enable further planning. This is also a rapidly changing situation

What business support is available?

Please monitor the announcements made regarding business support from the Government.

Please can you clarify if any key workers approach us for childcare later in the day or next week can we decide to offer childcare?

If you have decided to close and you want to reopen due to demand then you can.

The local village school is closed am I expected to offer childcare to these children

Yes you can, however you still need to ensure you are complying with Ofsted regulations, otherwise they will need to find alternative provision.

What support is available for businesses?

For detailed information see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

 

Useful sources of information:

Where can I find National guidelines for educational settings?

 NHS online:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Search: COVID-19: Guidance for education settings or click on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19#tools-for-use-in-childcare-and-educational-settings

Below is a link to all of the Government guidance documents which have been published:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Where can I find local advice?

https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/coronavirus/education.asp

 

OFSTED Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/ChildcareRegistration/