We have updated our Covid-19 FAQs with a new section called 'National lockdown support'.
One of the key questions that has caused some confusion is in regards to which children settings can care for - specifically whether settings can care for critical worker/vulnerable children full-time instead of going to school.
Unfortunately, this is not a simple yes or no answer and where each situation is unique, providers need to think carefully before making any decisions about the care offered.
We have therefore expanded and detailed our information as a free downloadable table with guidance notes for you to look at. You can find this in the second question down on the FAQs page - www.pacey.org.uk/Covid-FAQs
Caring for critical worker school-aged children - full-time
In regards to questions about caring for critical worker school-aged children full-time. As previously stated, it is important to recognise that currently school-aged children of critical workers should be in their school if there is a place available. School provides a familiar environment and routine to support children’s education and wellbeing.
If a parent/carer asks you to care for their child full-time (not wraparound) rather than attend their school, you will need to consider a number of factors alongside your usual risk assessment. For example, how will you support this child’s remote learning whilst caring for the other children in your care? Are you also going to have to home-school your own children if their school is closed? If this is a new child to your setting, what concerns may your current parents/carers have and how will you address these?
Some parents/carers of critical workers may want you to take their school-aged child full-time, even if a school place is available, because they think it will be safer in your setting or because they want siblings to remain together. You will need to think carefully if this is something you are able to provide, potentially for some weeks to come. You should also remind parents/carers that they have a responsibility to keep their child’s school up-to-date.
If you do decide to provide this care, we recommend you add to your contract, to be clear to the parent/carer that you can only support their child to access school lessons e.g. provide a quiet space and connectivity; support with timetabling, encouragement only. You will need to be clear you are not responsible for ensuring their child completes required work. If you need further advice or legal support, please contact the legal helpline – this is a free service for PACEY members.
Caring for vulnerable school-aged children - full-time
Vulnerable school-aged children may have complex needs that are being supported by a range of professionals. It is always best for vulnerable children to attend their school wherever possible. If any new parents/carers ask you to care for their vulnerable child full-time, you should discuss this with your local authority before making any decision, as well as undertaking your usual risk assessment.
Do take a look at the Coronavirus spotlight here.