PACEY has today worked with the Department for Education to ensure government guidance on when childminders (in England) can re-open (if they wish to) is clarified.
Department for Education have made clear to PACEY that:
If you are a childminder that is already open and currently caring for children of key workers or vulnerable children, you can stay open and continue caring for these children. However, you should not take on any more new non-eligible children.
If you are not currently open at all, you could now open for a child or children from ONE other household, providing it is in line with current guidelines to minimise the risk of spreading infection.
It is up to you as an individual to decide whether you want to open now or take time to prepare to open to all children from 1 June. This is all with the continued provison that the final decision on whether childcare settings and schools can reopen will be taken on 28 May and is dependent on the rate of COVID-19 infections continuing to decline at the current rate.
Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive comments:
“The clarification PACEY finally secured from Government late last night has made clear childminders can open in a limited capacity from today if they want but there is so much more we need to do to help them and other providers make the difficult decision whether to re-open or not. We’ve heard from 1000s of childminders since the publication of the Prime Minister’s road map and subsequent DfE guidance. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Whether they open now or in June, they are struggling to decide not only if it is financially viable to reopen with what is likely to be reduced demand from parents but whether they can do so without placing their own families at too greater risk. The mixed messages and confusion from government make this all the more difficult to decide, especially when told you can still not mix with family members but you can bring minded children into your own home.
“There is still much more to do in terms of supporting childminders as well as other pre-schools and nurseries to prepare their services for what is a new operating environment and to reassure parents too. Government not only needs to work with us and other sector bodies to do this but to understand its guidance recognises the nuances of different childcare types. We are producing advice for members that will be available from the end of this week and added to over the coming days. We are basing this on the experience and learning of the many childminders and other providers who have remained open to critical workers’ children and vulnerable children since March
“Whilst there are many steps providers can take to reduce risk, we know this may not be something all providers want to or could do. Many are telling us they will make a decision in September, depending on the number of new families asking for places. This means government also has to be clear what financial support will be available to both settings that re-open with less children than they normally care for as well as settings that remain closed; because they are protecting family members, can’t easily adapt to these operating requirements or have limited demand for childcare places. Continuing the furlough scheme until October does help some but most childminders will not benefit from this. The SEISS scheme isn’t going to help all childminders either. We urgently need to know what transformation funding will be made available to childcare providers so they can survive what is likely to be a long period of reduced demand or pro-longed closure.”