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NEWS: The voice of childminders changes government guidance in England

We are delighted to announce that today the government has agreed to change the guidance, previously announced in February, that said childminders should not open if there was a positive case in their household and if they couldn’t operate on a different premises, while the rest of the nation shifted towards ‘personal judgement’. 

A huge thank you to all our members who supported PACEY’s campaign to change this. From today, as confirmed by the Department for Education (DfE), childminders in England will no longer need to close if someone in the childminder’s household has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, the childminder can continue to childmind at home and are advised to follow steps as outlined to reduce the risk of onward transmission. In their own words, the DfE has said:

“…childminders can continue to work from home if someone they are living with has COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test, as long as that member of their household avoids contact with the children at the setting and cleaning and hygiene controls are followed (as set out below). Childminders can follow the guidance below from today and we will be withdrawing the current guidance Additional actions for childminders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) as soon as possible.”

This marks an important moment in our ongoing campaign to achieve recognition and parity for childminders within the childcare and early years sector.

We could not have achieved this without the voice and action of PACEY members. While PACEY urgently raised the unfairness of this decision with DfE, Health Security Agency (UKHSA), key ministers and members of parliament, many of our members contacted their own MPs on the issue via email, letter and twitter and as a consequence several parliamentary questions were tabled, decision makers were lobbied and consequently persuaded to change their position.

We are delighted with this victory and the impact of our members. It shows that childminders will not take unfair government decisions lying down.

Again, as written by DfE, “From today, 17 March 2022, if someone in a childminder’s household has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, childminders can continue to childmind at home. Childminders are advised to follow the steps below to reduce the risk of onward transmission. 

  • The person who has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms should avoid contact with the children being cared for in the setting.
  • Where possible, use separate toilet and handwashing facilities. If this is not possible, maintain extra cleaning and hygiene routines, particularly after the person has used the facilities.
  • Notify parents and carers of the children attending the setting, and any assistants, about the person who has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, as soon as reasonably possible and maintain open communication with them throughout.
  • Consider the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with mitigations such as ventilation and extra cleaning and hygiene routines. They should be applied where practical and safe to do so. Additional guidance is available in Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.
  • Comply with health and safety law by reviewing your risk assessment. The risk assessment must demonstrate that the provision of childcare in your setting is safe and how you will put into place any additional but proportionate measures

Childminders can also consider using alternative places to childmind such as other childminders’ houses, where possible.”

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at PACEY comments: 

“At long last common sense has prevailed and the COVID guidance that was restricting childminders’ ability to support the children in their care and to maintain a sustainable business has been overturned. At last childminders are being treated fairly and in the same way as all other schools and early years settings.

I want to take time to thank every one of our PACEY members who have taken time to write to the head of the UKHCA (who set these restrictions); to the Secretary of State for Education and to their local MP. This has more than certainly made a difference and helped PACEY to ensure its lobbying on the need to overturn this rule was heard by these decision-makers. PACEY hopes this change will help relieve some of the immense stress and worry that so many childminders are still living with daily due to COVID.”

FAQs:

Please note that the updated Coronavirus FAQs are available in the resource spotlight but we have outlined the key questions below.

1. If a member of my household tests positive for COVID-19, do I (the childminder) need to close my setting?

No, as confirmed above, and thanks to the campaigning of PACEY members, childminders in England will no longer need to close if someone in the childminder’s household has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, the childminder can continue to childmind at home and are advised to follow steps as outlined above to reduce the risk of onward transmission. 

2. If I (the childminder) tests positive for COVID-19, do I need to close?

Yes, if you test positive for COVID-19 you should stay at home to isolate and avoid contact with other people. Public health guidance states that a self-isolating individual can return to their normal routine before the full 10 days of isolation, if they test negative on two consecutive lateral flow device (LFD) tests and no longer have a temperature. The tests must be taken at least five full days after the symptoms began or the day of the initial positive test. For example, you can stop isolating on day 6 if you test negative on days 5 and 6.