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NEWS: Temporary relaxation of some NMS in Wales in response to COVID-19

Darllenwch hyn yn Gymraeg yma. Read this in Welsh here

What has been shared?

The Welsh Government has issued a Circular Letter to provide guidance to the childcare and playwork sector in Wales in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. It explains under what circumstances and subject to what arrangements, Welsh Government will allow the temporary relaxation of  some of the requirements in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare.

The Welsh Government acknowledges that the sector is going to great efforts to ensure that there is a fundamental level of provision available to the children of critical workers and to vulnerable children. The Welsh Government has been considering supporting the availability of essential provision in these challenging circumstances.  With this in mind, the Welsh Government has decided to temporarily relax some of the requirements in its National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare. It is hoped that these measures will help address some of the immediate difficulties and facilitate the continued provision of key childcare provision.   Any relaxation will be restricted to Welsh Government guideline as set out in the Circular Letter and subject to local authority approval on a case by case basis.

In accordance with Welsh Government advice, childcare and playwork settings should now only be open to care for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children and only then if the child cannot be cared for safely at home.

These steps have been discussed with Care Inspectorate Wales and with local authority representatives. Welsh Government have also sought to strike an acceptable balance between giving providers the flexibility to adapt whilst not compromising on the safety and well-being of children in childcare.

What are these relaxations?

Until further notice, the Welsh Ministers have agreed that the following aspects of the National Minimum Standards can be considered for relaxation on a temporary basis

Staffing ratios

Adult: child ratios for children could be relaxed on a temporary basis as follows:

Day care settings (in line with Standard 15.12): The NMS ratio of one adult to eight children for children aged 3-7 years to be relaxed to one adult to ten children.  The NMS ratio of one adult to ten children aged 8-12 years to be relaxed to allow one adult to care for up to 12 children. 

Childminding settings (in line with Standard 15.7): The NMS ratio for child minders to care for no more than six children under 8 years of age to be relaxed to enable child minders to care for more than six children aged 5-7 years subject to the overall limit of 10 children under the age of 12 years. Please note ratios for children under the age of 5 are unchanged .
 
Local authority approval is required prior to any relaxation in staffing ratio being implemented, in order to ensure that the changes are reasonable and proportionate, and ensure that ongoing care can be provided taking account of local circumstances and without compromising the safety and welfare of the children being cared for.
 

Other relaxations

Standard 15.13 Supernumerary staffing in day care settings: arrangements to be agreed with local authorities on a case by case basis, depending on the specific circumstances. The requirement, that the manager should not be included in any calculation of adult: child ratios in a full day care setting registered for 20 or more children, can be relaxed subject to the prior approval of the Local Authority. 

Standard 15.3 Two staff on duty in day care settings: subject to all other staffing  ratio requirements being met the requirement that, there are always at least two staff on duty can be relaxed on a case by case basis subject to the local authority taking into account the specific circumstances of the setting.


Staff qualifications and DBS checks: a flexible and proportionate approach to qualification requirements to be adopted in relation to staff working or volunteering in a childcare setting. In all instances, child minders and the person in charge of a setting or their appointed deputy would require qualifications in line with the NMS. See the Circular Letter for further information on this and also in relation to DBS checks.

What do I need to do?

All providers should inform their Local Authority (through their Family Information Services or usual contact in the childcare team) of their intention to implement any of the measures described in the Circular Letter, before any relaxation is made.  Local authorities will need to be satisfied that plans are necessary and proportionate in the circumstances. 

CIW as the regulator of childcare services will need to be informed of any changes made once agreement from the Local Authority is confirmed.  Providers will need to use their on line accounts to notify CIW of any agreed changes and Local Authorities will need to notify CIW that they have agreed the changes. The provider and local authority should also review the arrangements on a monthly basis until the point at which full adherence to the National Minimum Standards is resumed. These are temporary measures and will cease to apply when childcare and playwork provision is operating at full capacity again.

Providers operating under the relaxed NMS conditions are advised to check the validity of their insurance with their insurance provider as there could be implications for their cover.

Welsh Government have also shared the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions on the Circular Letter.

Beth sydd wedi'i rannu?

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi cyhoeddi Cylchlythyr sy’n cynnig arweiniad i'r sector gofal plant a gwaith chwarae yng Nghymru yng ngoleuni’r sefyllfa barhaus COVID-19. Mae'n egluro o dan ba amgylchiadau a threfniadau, bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn caniatáu llacio rhai agweddau’r Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol ar gyfer Gofal Plant a Reoleiddir dros dro.

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn cydnabod bod y sector yn mynd i ymdrechion mawr i sicrhau bod lefel sylfaenol o ddarpariaeth ar gael i blant gweithwyr hanfodol a phlant bregus. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi bod yn ystyried cefnogi argaeledd darpariaeth hanfodol o dan yr amgylchiadau heriol hyn. Gyda hyn mewn golwg, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi penderfynu llacio rhai o'r gofynion dros dro yn ei Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol ar gyfer Gofal Plant Rheoledig. Y gobaith yw y bydd y mesurau hyn yn helpu i fynd i'r afael â rhai o'r anawsterau uniongyrchol ac yn hwyluso'r ddarpariaeth barhaus o ddarpariaeth gofal plant. Cyfyngir unrhyw ymlacio i ganllaw Llywodraeth Cymru fel y nodir yn y Cylchlythyr ac yn amodol ar gymeradwyaeth awdurdod lleol fesul achos.

Yn unol â chyngor Llywodraeth Cymru, dylai lleoliadau gofal plant a gwaith chwarae fod yn agored i ofalu am blant gweithwyr hanfodol a phlant bregus yn unig a dim ond wedyn os na ellir gofalu am y plentyn yn ddiogel gartref.

Trafodwyd y camau hyn gydag Arolygiaeth Gofal Cymru a gyda chynrychiolwyr awdurdodau lleol. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru hefyd wedi ceisio sicrhau cydbwysedd derbyniol rhwng rhoi hyblygrwydd i ddarparwyr addasu heb gyfaddawdu ar ddiogelwch a lles plant mewn gofal plant.

Beth sy’n ymlacio?

Hyd nes y rhoddir rhybudd pellach, mae Gweinidogion Cymru wedi cytuno y gellir ystyried yr agweddau canlynol o'r Safonau Gofynol Cenedlaethol ar gyfer ymlacio dros dro

Cymarebau staffio

Oedolion: gellir ymlacio cymarebau plant dros dro fel y ganlyn:

Lleoliadau gofal dydd (yn unol â Safon 15.12): Cymhareb Safonau Gofynol Cenedlaethol o un oedolyn i wyth o blant ar gyfer plant 3-7 oed i gael ei ymlacio i un oedolyn i ddeg o blant. Gellir llacio'r gymhareb Safonau Gofynol Cenedlaethol o un oedolyn i ddeg o blant rhwng 8 a 12 oed er mwyn caniatáu i un oedolyn ofalu am hyd at 12 o blant.

Lleoliadau gwarchod plant (yn unol â Safon 15.7): Y gymhareb Safonau Gofynol Cenedlaethol i ofalwyr plant ofalu nad oes mwy na chwech o blant o dan 8 oed i ymlacio er mwyn galluogi gwarchodwyr plant i ofalu am fwy na chwe phlentyn 5-7 oed ar yr amod nad oes mwy na 10 o blant i gyd o dan 12 oed. Noder nad oes unrhyw newid i’r gymhareb ar gyfer plant o dan 5 oed.

Rhaid cael cymeradwyaeth yr awdurdod lleol cyn gweithredu unrhyw lacio ar y gymhareb staffio, er mwyn sicrhau bod y newidiadau yn rhesymol ac yn gymesur, a bod modd darparu gofal rheolaidd yng ngoleuni’r amgylchiadau lleol, heb gyfaddawdu ar ddiogelwch a lles y plant y gofelir amdanynt.

Ymlacion eraill

Safon 15.13 Staff ychwanegol mewn lleoliadau gofal dydd: Dylech chi a’ch awdurdod lleol gytuno ar y trefniadau hyn fesul achos, yn dibynnu ar yr amgylchiadau penodol. Ceir llacio’r gofyniad na ddylid cynnwys y rheolwr wrth gyfrifo cymarebau oedolion: plant mewn lleoliad gofal dydd llawn sydd wedi’i gofrestru ar gyfer 20 neu fwy o blant, ar yr amod bod yr awdurdod lleol yn cymeradwyo hynny ymlaen llaw.

Safon 15.3 Dau aelod o staff ar ddyletswydd mewn lleoliadau gofal dydd: ar yr amod bod pob gofyniad arall o ran cymarebau staffio yn cael eu bodloni, ceir llacio’r gofyniad bod yna ddau aelod o staff ar ddyletswydd bob amser, ar ôl i’r awdurdod ystyried amgylchiadau penodol y lleoliad.

Cymwysterau Staff a DBS: bydd dull hyblyg a chymesur o ofynion cymwysterau i'w fabwysiadu mewn perthynas â staff sy'n gweithio neu'n gwirfoddoli mewn lleoliad gofal plant. Ymhob achos, bydd angen cymwysterau yn unol â'r SGC ar warchodwyr plant a'r person sy'n gyfrifol am leoliad neu eu dirprwy penodedig. Gweler y Cylchlythyr am ragor o wybodaeth am hyn a hefyd mewn perthynas â gwiriadau DBS.

Beth sydd angen i mi ei wneud?

Dylai pob darparwr hysbysu ei Awdurdod Lleol (trwy eu Gwasanaethau Gwybodaeth i Deuluoedd neu gyswllt arferol yn y tîm gofal plant) o'u bwriad i weithredu unrhyw un o'r mesurau a ddisgrifir yn y Cylchlythyr, cyn gwneud unrhyw newid. Bydd angen i awdurdodau lleol fod yn fodlon bod cynlluniau'n angenrheidiol ac yn gymesur o dan yr amgylchiadau

Bydd angen hysbysu AGC fel rheolydd gwasanaethau gofal plant am unrhyw newidiadau a wneir unwaith y bydd cytundeb gan yr Awdurdod Lleol wedi'i gadarnhau. Bydd angen i ddarparwyr ddefnyddio eu cyfrifon ar-lein i hysbysu AGC am unrhyw newidiadau y cytunwyd arnynt a bydd angen i’r Awdurdodau Lleol hysbysu AGC eu bod wedi cytuno ar y newidiadau. Dylai’r darparwr a’r awdurdod lleol adolygu’r trefniadau bob mis hyd nes y bydd rhaid glynu wrth y Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol eto. Ni fydd y mesurau dros dro hyn yn gymwys pan fydd darpariaeth gofal plant a gwaith chwarae yn weithredol ar gapasiti llawn eto

Cynghorir darparwyr sy’n gweithredu o dan amodau llacach y Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol i wirio dilysrwydd eu hyswiriant gyda’u darparwr yswiriant gan y gallai fod yna oblygiadau i’r newidiadau.

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru hefyd wedi rhannu'r atebion i rai Cwestiynau Cyffredin ar y Cylchlythyr.