FAQs - Coronavirus

Unsurprisingly there have been thousands of questions asked in recent weeks and months about the impact COVID-19 will have on your childcare business. Remember that the Department for Education, Ofsted, and other government departments are producing guidance and FAQs about COVID-19 which may help. 

The Department for Education in England helpline can help to answer questions related to education about COVID-19. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday by calling 0800 046 8687 or emailing DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk. PACEY members can contact the legal helpline for advice.

We've collated the most frequently asked questions and grouped them by theme. These FAQ relate to settings in England only.

Local lockdown support

Where can I find guidance if I am in local lockdown?

As there continue to be changes to local lockdowns and where these are in the UK, you can find your relevant guidance for educational settings in the “Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings” area on the government website.

If your guidance has not been published but you have a new local lockdown in place, please check the latest updates on the government website or check with your local authority.

How is informal childcare being managed during a local lockdown?

In areas affected by local restrictions, community and informal groups must follow the advice relevant to the affected area. From Tuesday 22 September care bubbles will be able to form in areas of intervention, to allow families to share caring responsibilities with another household.

This means that children under 14 will be able to be cared for by individuals outside of their immediate household as part of a care bubble. However, the guidance is clear that arrangements must be part of a consistent childcare relationship and not as a ‘one-off arrangement’ or play date.

However, PACEY is clear that long term childcare should be provided by a registered childcare provider.

Will childcare settings have to close as part of future local or national restrictions?

As stated in the guidance for local decision makers, “In local areas where restrictions have been implemented for certain sectors (from national direction), we anticipate that education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all, with the additional requirement that face coverings should be worn by staff and pupils in schools and colleges, from year 7 and above, outside classrooms when moving around communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained (tier 1 onwards, as below). Being in nursery, school and college is vital for children and young people’s education and wellbeing. It is also important that parents and carers are able to return to work, and having access to childcare will allow that to happen.

There may be exceptional circumstances in which some level of restriction to education or childcare is required in a local area. In those situations, restrictions will be implemented in a phased manner – the key aim being to retain as much face-to-face education and access to childcare as possible. These ‘tiers of restriction’ will ensure that extensive limitations on education and childcare are a last resort, and that priority is given to vulnerable children and children of critical workers for face-to-face provision in all cases.

Where there are no local restrictions in place, education provision should continue to remain fully open to all, and these tiers do not apply.”

Dealing with symptoms and testing

How do I get a test for Coronavirus?

Testing is available for people of all ages in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This includes:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have symptoms
  • if you live in England and have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
  • if you live in in an area where there are coronavirus outbreaks

You can choose to take the test at a test site near you with results available within 48 hours or with a home test kit. More information can be found here.

Access priority testing

As a key worker in England, you and members of your family should be able to access priority testing via the government’s employer referral scheme for essential workers. This portal enables you to register for a unique invitation code to book a test for either yourself, or a household member(s) at a regional testing site. Find out how to apply.

If a child or member of staff develops Coronavirus symptoms at my setting, what do I do?

If anyone in the setting becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they must be sent home and advised to follow COVID-19 guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’, which sets out that they must self-isolate for at least 10 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19). Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door with appropriate adult supervision. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.

If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should be taken to a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.

PPE must be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs). More information on PPE use can be found in the Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance.

As is usual practice, in an emergency, call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

Any members of staff who have helped someone with symptoms and any children who have been in close contact with them do not need to go home to self-isolate. However, they must self-isolate and arrange for a test if they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a test), if the symptomatic person subsequently tests positive or they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

Everyone must wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and running water or use hand sanitiser after any contact with someone who is unwell. The area around the person with symptoms must be cleaned with normal household disinfectant after they have left to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings outside the home guidance.

You can take a look at our downloadable flow chat in the reopening toolkit to support you with this process. Public Health England have also produced some useful action cards for education settings outlining what settings should do to manage a possible outbreak.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of Coronavirus at my setting?

After following the instructions outlined in the previous question. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting where the confirmed case was, will be able to access a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation, provided no other member of the household has become symptomatic. Settings do not need to request evidence of negative test results or other medical evidence before admitting children or welcoming them back after a period of self-isolation
 

If someone in your setting or household has tested positive for Coronavirus, as of 17 September, you should contact the DfE’s helpline and you will then be directed to the dedicated NHS advice team for settings with confirmed cases. This new service can be reached by called DfE’s existing helpline on 0800 046 8687 and selecting the option for reporting a positive case (option 1). The line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The advice service (or PHE local health protection team if escalated) will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice, and work through a risk assessment to identify close contacts.

This includes:

  • direct close contacts - face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin to skin)
  • extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual
  • travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person

To support the team of advisors in supporting the setting, government recommends that settings keep a record of:

  • children and staff in specific groups/rooms (where applicable)
  • close contact that takes places between children and staff in different groups/rooms

This should be a proportionate recording process. Settings do not need to ask staff to keep definitive records in a way that is overly burdensome.

Further detail and advice can be found here. You can also download our Coronavirus flow chart in the reopening toolkit. Public Health England have also produced some useful action cards for education settings outlining what settings should do to manage a possible outbreak.

Any confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the setting (either child or staff member), and/or if the setting is advised to close as a result, should be swiftly reported to Ofsted through the usual notification channels. Please go to the Ofsted and EYFS section of the FAQs for more information.

In the vast majority of cases, settings and parents and carers will be in agreement that a child with symptoms should not attend the setting, given the potential risk to others. In the event that a parent or carer insists on a child attending the setting, the setting can take the decision to refuse the child if in their reasonable judgement it is necessary to protect their children and staff from possible infection with coronavirus (COVID-19). Any such decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and the current public health advice. Further guidance is available on testing and tracing for coronavirus.

Am I covered by my PACEY PLI insurance if a child in my setting contracts Coronavirus?

PACEY’s insurers are clear that your insurance provides liability, so long as you implement the appropriate steps and actions that are set out in government guidance and Public Health England guidance. This guidance is evolving all the time so you should regularly review this and ensure your systems and procedures are up to date.

As always, we would advise you to keep written records of the steps you have taken in your setting to ensure so far as is practicable, that children and any staff you have remain safe in your care. This would include adequate risk assessments and other appropriate measures put in place to avoid the spread of any infections, including COVID-19.  

PACEY is currently developing advice and support for members on how to undertake risk assessment in light of COVID-19 as well as information on other controls you will need to have in place, including reasonable hygiene procedures. We are also regularly monitoring the guidance and advice being issues in England and Wales to ensure members are up to date with any changes.

In the event that a child or member of staff contract COVID-19 whilst at your setting, it will be important to have this documentation to evidence the steps you have taken to ensure safety and compliance with guidelines. This would be key to successfully defending any possible claim.

Read further guidance from the government here and from Public Health England here.

If you are not insured with PACEY, you need to check any requirements with your chosen insurance provider.

My child has been sent home to isolate, due to someone else in their school ‘bubble’ having COVID-19, does my childminder setting need to close?

If someone in your child’s school bubble has displayed symptoms and had a positive test for coronavirus, your child may be sent home by the school to isolate if they have had contact with the person who has tested positive. However, the other people your child lives with would not need to isolate at this point, unless the child then develops any symptoms themselves. This is the same if an adult in your household is sent home because they have had contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Public Health England have confirmed to PACEY that, at this point, you wouldn’t need to close your childminding setting but the child/person isolating must not have any contact with the children being cared for in the setting.

The childminder must risk assess the situation as every setting is different; have an open communication on the issue with parents and keep evidence this has happened. If there are challenges in ensuring the affected family member stay separated from the children being cared for, mitigations must be put in place and evidenced. For example, if possible the isolating family member should use a separate bathroom. If the isolating family member has to use a shared bathroom or other communal areas, these must be thoroughly cleaned after every use, remembering that the child isolating must not have any contact with the children being cared for in the setting.

At the time of the incident within the school, Test and Trace should activate and it is most likely that you would be contacted by the local health protection team if they felt you needed to close depending on the situation. Don’t forget to keep doing your risk assessments and communicating with parents about what is happening and precautions you are taking. Each situation would be unique and the risk would have to be assessed on a case by case basis by the local health protection teams. For example, if a school had a large outbreak, then it may be necessary for you to close.

Remember, if the child isolating or any other member of the household displays symptoms of Covid-19 during the period of isolation or otherwise, then the setting would need to close at this point for isolation and testing.

What is the NHS Test and Trace app?

On 24 September, NHS Test and Trace launched the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It will do this by alerting people who may have been exposed to infection so that they can take action.

Checking in with the app will enable people to keep a diary of the locations they have visited, which will be held securely in the app. If there is a COVID-19 outbreak linked to their visit, users will get an early warning alert from the NHS.  If they have a positive test for COVID-19, people will be able to use the diary to tell contact tracing teams where they have been, helping to manage COVID-19 and protecting other people.

The app will be available to download for anyone aged 16 and over. This means that some students in year 11, students in years 12, 13 and in further education colleges will be eligible to use the app and benefit from its features.

There is published guidance for school and college leaders and staff on the use of the NHS COVID-19 app in schools and further education colleges. This guidance provides information on how the app works and sets out actions required to use it within schools and further education colleges in England.

Reopening, staff and parents

Will my childminding PLI insurance continue to cover me?

PACEY’s insurers are clear that your insurance provides liability, so long as you implement the appropriate steps and actions that are set out in government guidance and Public Health England guidance. This guidance is evolving all the time so you should regularly review this and ensure your systems and procedures are up.​

Can Nannies work? Will PACEY’s PLI continue to cover Nannies to work?

The government has been clear in its amendment to guidance that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household and that, so long as the infection rate of the virus does not increase, that nannies can return to their usual way of working.

If you are a nanny, you should not mix with other nannies and you should maintain social distance where possible from the other household members of the family you are working for. If you are a live-in nanny then you will be classed as a member of that household and not required to socially distance from them. Our information on how to run a childcare setting and reduce the risk of infection includes many relevant points for nannies. You should consider this and access our CPD support as you adapt your practice to support the children in your care.

Your insurance provides liability as long as you are meeting the usual criteria (that is that you only work from the parents’ home and not your own, and that you care for no more than two families’ children) and are providing childcare within the latest guidelines set by the government, which include keeping children within their family home except for very limited purposes.

Nannies who are PACEY members can access our legal advice service for free.

If a member of staff, you or a member of your family has underlying health conditions, can they work?

From 1 August, the government paused shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. This means that those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to go back to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure. Boris Johnson confirmed on 22 September that there would be no change to shielding unless they are subject to local lockdowns.

Further guidance can be found here including the definitions of clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups. Every circumstance will be different and, if necessary, you can contact PACEY legal advisors free if you are a member.

As all childminding settings are unique you will have to do the appropriate risk assessments at your setting and make decisions that are best for your family and business. Further guidance can be found here including the definitions of clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

If a child in my setting is shielding at home, can they attend my setting?

From 1 August, children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practice frequent hand washing and social distancing. In practice, this means taking particular care to minimise contact with others and robustly practising good, frequent hand washing.

Further guidance can be found here including the definitions of clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups. Every circumstance will be different and, if necessary, you can contact PACEY legal advisors free if you are a member.

Can childminders work with other childminders to look after more children together?

Yes – up to 3 childminders (or a mix of up to 3 childminders and assistants) can work together in the same domestic premises. However, if more than 3 childminders work together they will need to apply to Ofsted to register childcare on domestic premises.

If registered to deliver childcare on domestic premises, 4 or more childminders (or a mix of 4 or more childminders and assistants) can work together in the same domestic premises, which would enable them to care for larger groups of children and still meet ratio requirements.

Further details of requirements for childminders and childcare on domestic premises is available.

How do I support my staff if they are from a BAME community?

Research by Public Health England has identified that Covid-19 presents “a disproportionate risk for people from BAME groups, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.” Employers should discuss this issue with any staff they have from a BAME community, to understand what, if any concerns, they may have. Take time to talk through what support they may need and to reassure them you have taken the steps advised by Government to reduce the risk of infection. Every circumstance will be different and, if necessary, you can contact PACEY legal advisors free if you are a member.

Can early years settings look after all children? Have ratios changed?

In childcare settings, providers were able to welcome back all children from the week commencing 1 June 2020 (unless they are within a local lockdown area, in which case, different guidelines apply). This includes childminders who can also look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.

Current requirements on ratios and space have not changed. You can see further guidance in the Department for Education’s early years guidance. After 20 July, normal group sizes resumed so all children should be able to attend as normal. This means previous prioritisation of children should no longer be necessary.

Can children attend more than one setting?

Early years settings are no longer required to organise children and staff in small, consistent groups so can return to normal group sizes. It also recognises that early years settings are typically smaller than schools. However, settings should still consider how they can minimise mixing within settings.

For example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible. Minimising contact between groups can reduce the number of children and staff required to self-isolate in the event of children or staff testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Adopting the ‘system of controls’ set out here in a robust way will ensure there are proportionate safeguards for children as well as staff and reduce the chance of transmission.

Parents and carers should be encouraged to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally ensuring their child only attends the same setting consistently. This should also be the same for staff.

There may be situations where a child needs to attend more than one setting, for example, children attending a childminder before their nursery opens so that their parent or carer may go to work.

Settings, parents and carers should work through the ‘systems of controls’ collaboratively, to address any risks identified and allowing them to jointly deliver appropriate care for the child. This section of the guidance contains more information about the ‘system of controls’ for settings.

How do I manage visits to the setting from parents/carers, additional staff, external professionals and non-staff members?

As detailed in government guidance:

“There will be occasions when visits to the setting are necessary, but settings are encouraged to avoid visitors entering their premises, wherever possible. A record should be kept of all visitors which follows the guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.”

Many childcare providers will have a visitor’s book, which is fine for use as long as it contains all the necessary contact information.

Prospective parents and children

For new admissions, settings should consider providing virtual tours for prospective parents and carers. If parents and carers are keen to visit in person, settings should consider:

  • ensuring face coverings are worn if required in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting (see section 3 on face coverings)
  • there is regular handwashing, especially before and after the visit
  • holding visits after hours. If this is not possible, consider limiting visits to the outside play areas during regular hours, and ensure strict social distancing is observed

Prior to a visit, settings should ensure that parents and carers are aware:

  • of the ‘system of controls’
  • how this impacts them and their responsibilities during their visit
  • how to maintain social distancing from staff, other visitors, and children other than those in their care

PACEY has shared a number of childcare provider’s experiences when settling in new children here.

Parents settling children

Guidance from PHE outlines how parents and carers are able to enter a setting to help their children adapt to their new environment. Settings should ensure that parents and carers:

  • wear face coverings, if required, in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting.
  • stay for a limited amount of time (ideally not more than an hour)
  • avoid close contact with other children
  • are aware of the ‘system of controls’, how this impacts them, and their responsibilities in supporting it when visiting a setting with their child

Other visits by parents and carers

  • Parents and carers should not be allowed into the setting unless there is a specific need.
  • Children should be dropped off and collected at the door, if possible.
  • Stay and play sessions, such as where the purpose is for parent and carers to meet each other, should not take place at the setting.
  • Guidance on parents and carers coming into the setting for organised performances can be found in the music, dance and drama section of this guidance.

External professionals

In instances where settings need to use other essential professionals such as social workers, speech and language therapists or counsellors, or other professionals to support delivery of a child’s EHC plan, settings should assess whether the professionals need to attend in person or can do so virtually.

If they need to attend in person, they should:

  • follow guidance relevant to the setting
  • keep the number of attendances to a minimum
  • wash hands frequently
  • where possible to do so, maintain social distancing
  • be informed about the system of controls in settings

Other visitors

Settings should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on social distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of setting hours, a record should be kept of all visitors where this is practical which follows the guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

Sessions in settings that use external providers, which are not directly required for children’s health and wellbeing, should be suspended. Guidance on visits from music, dance and drama peripatetic teachers can be found in Section 3.8 of this guidance.

The presence of any additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis, to limit contacts, where possible.”

How can settings manage activities such as music, dance and drama?

Guidance states that “it relates to organised group activity, not to spontaneous singing, dance and role-play that young children may naturally do, and should be encouraged to do, by early years practitioners”.

 “Music, dance and drama build confidence, help children live happier, more enriched lives, and discover ways to express themselves. There may, however, be a cumulative risk of infection in environments where organised singing, chanting, playing wind instruments, dance and drama takes place.”

It’s important that early years settings considering the following:

  • Settings should take particular care in music, dance and drama lessons that children remain in their usual groups.
  • Settings should keep any background or accompanying music to levels which do not encourage participants to raise their voices unduly.
  • If planning an indoor or outdoor face-to-face performance in front of a live audience, the setting should follow the latest advice in the performing arts guidance. If an outdoor performance is planned, the setting should also give particular consideration to the guidance on delivering outdoor events.

Music, dance and drama peripatetic teachers

  • When engaging with peripatetic teachers (non-staff who visit settings), a record should be kept of all visits.
  • Peripatetic teachers can move between early years settings, however, settings should consider how to minimise the number of visitors that attend where possible.
  • Visitors will be expected to comply with arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and children. 
  • To minimise the numbers of temporary staff entering the premises, and secure best value, settings could consider using longer assignments with peripatetic teachers and agree a minimum number of hours across the academic year.
  • If a teacher is operating on a peripatetic basis, and operating across multiple groups or individuals, it is important that they do not attend a lesson if they are unwell or are having any symptoms associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • They should maintain distancing requirements with each group they teach, where appropriate.
  • They should make efforts to reduce the number of groups taught and locations worked in, to reduce the number of contacts made

Further information on the Music Education Hubs, including contact details for local hubs, can be found at the Arts Council England Music Education Hub.

Organised music sessions in the early years

With appropriate safety mitigation, singing and wind playing (eg. Playing a recorder) can still take place. Measures to take include:

  • playing instruments and singing in groups should take place outdoors wherever possible
  • if indoors, use a room with as much space as possible, for example larger rooms. Rooms with high ceilings are expected to enable dilution of aerosol transmission
  • if playing indoors, social distance each child 2 metres apart
  • limit the numbers to account for ventilation of the space. It is important to ensure good ventilation. Advice on this can be found in air conditioning and ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak
  • singing and wind playing should not take place in larger groups such as choirs and ensembles
  • position wind players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another player
  • use microphones where possible or encourage singing quietly

In your setting

How do I manage activities, toys and comforters?

Government guidance states that all planned activities should be risk assessed in light of coronavirus, in conjunction with relevant staff where applicable, and due consideration given to how usual practice may need to be adapted.

Childcare settings should have developed their own hygiene policies to try and reduce the spread of infection. This includes keeping separate towels and flannels for each child as well as regular cleaning of toys and resources. Government guidance includes advice on how to do so.

In order to facilitate cleaning, remove unnecessary items from learning environments where there is space to store them elsewhere. Public health advice is to remove all soft toys, and any toys that are hard to clean, such as those with intricate parts. Where practicable, remove soft furnishings, for example pillows, bean bags and rugs.

 

If possible, children should be discouraged from bringing soft toys and other comforters into the setting, but if this is likely to cause distress you should use your professional judgement on this. Given the challenging time some children will have been through, it is important to be aware of what each child needs to ensure their positive transition back into the childcare settings. For some, this may mean having a comforter or favourite toy close to hand. If that is the case it will be important to ensure other children do not handle that item

Consider and communicate a policy on bringing items and toys from home. This should only be done if absolutely essential and, where this is the case, items should be appropriately cleaned on arrival.

Find more support from PACEY here.

How do I manage nappy changing and first aid?

You of course will still need to change nappies and provide personal care. The guidance sets out how you can do so and where you need to use PPE to reduce any risk of infection. It is widely recognised that you cannot maintain social distance with small children and so supporting them to stay in small groups is the strategy set out in current guidance. The advice on how to meet young children’s personal care needs by practicing good hygiene methods is set out here relevant Government guidance. Again, you should consider this in your risk assessment.

Children will need comfort and reassurance, ensure you follow hygiene procedures including hand washing. When administering first aid you can continue to use the PPE that they would normally wear in these situations, for example you may usually wear aprons and gloves. If a child shows symptoms of Coronavirus, they should not attend a childcare setting and should be at home.

Please look at the government guidance for more information.

When should PPE/face coverings be used? Where can I get PPE?

As stated in government guidance “The government is not recommending universal use of face coverings in early years education and care settings because the system of controls, applicable to all education and childcare environments, provides additional mitigating measures.”

When to use PPE

  • Where an individual child becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while at a setting, and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
  • where a child already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE (for example, nappy changing or first aid), in which case the same PPE should continue to be used

Guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care provides more information about preventing and controlling infection, how PPE should be used, what type of PPE to use, and how to source it.

Where recommended, use face coverings

The guidance is clear that based on current evidence and measures that settings are already putting in place, face coverings are not necessary when adults are interacting with children, even where social distancing is not possible.

  • When social distancing is difficult to maintain in communal areas
    • As it states in government guidance “In situations where social distancing between adults in settings is not possible (e.g. when moving around in corridors and communal areas), settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site, both staff and visitors.”
    • When applying this to a childcare setting, you will need to assess when wearing a face covering would be appropriate. For example, as stated in guidance, for potentially new starters, “if parents and carers are keen to visit in person, settings should consider ensuring face coverings are worn if required in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting” or if parents need to enter the setting to help their children adapt to a new environment.

Detail on when face coverings are mandatory and the exemptions to this rule can be found here.

This includes:

Education and childcare settings and providers should use their local supply chains to obtain PPE.

If education or childcare settings cannot obtain the PPE they need they should approach their local authority (LA). Local authorities should support them to access local PPE markets and available stock locally, including through coordinating the redistribution of available supplies between settings according to priority needs.

If the local authority is not able to meet the PPE needs of education and childcare providers, the LA should approach their nearest local resilience forum (LRF) which will allocate stock if it is available once the needs of other vital services locally have been met. If neither the LA nor LRF is able to respond to an education or childcare setting’s unmet urgent need for PPE, the setting will need to make their own judgement in line with their risk assessment as to whether it is safe to continue to operate.

Read the guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care for more information about preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE.

Safe removal and disposal of face coverings

Settings should have a process for removing face coverings when staff or visitors who use face coverings arrive at the setting, and when face coverings are worn at the setting in certain circumstances. This process should be communicated clearly to staff and visitors.

Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on – and the safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use. Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and the face covering should be replaced carefully.

Further information can be found in face coverings: when to wear one and how to make your own.

I have a supervised toothbrushing programme in my setting, how do I manage this now?

PHE have confirmed that supervised toothbrushing programmes may be re-established within settings using the dry brushing method.

The wet brushing model is not recommended because it is considered more likely to risk droplet and contact transmission and offers no additional benefit to oral health over dry toothbrushing.

For information on the cleaning and storage of toothbrushes and storage systems, see the COVID-19: guidance for supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years and school settings.

Going outside, wrap around care, groups and schools

Can settings take children outside or on trips? What about insurance?

Yes, settings can operate at their normal group sizes and while settings should continue to maximise use of private outdoor space, early years settings including childminders are exempt from the law of no more than six people meeting up outside provided that:

  • the trip being for the purpose of education or childcare
  • staying within their bubble and within the staff child registered ratios,
  • making sure risk assessments are completed thoroughly in advance,
  • demonstrating in that risk assessment that they can remain socially distant from other groups (2 metres),
  • evidencing parental permission
  • Through handwashing is maintained throughout
  • and adhering to all other hygiene requirements including with the use of any public equipment (read the guidance here).

Childminders may take the children in their setting to outdoor public spaces (for example parks or local woods) as long as they adhere to industry guidance, and have evidenced the safety of the children in their care as outlined above.

PACEY’s insurers are clear that your insurance provides liability, long as you implement the appropriate steps and actions that are set out in national industry guidance from Department for Education and Public Health England. 

If you are a PACEY member and have any questions you can contact the free legal helpline. If you are not insured with PACEY, you need to check any requirements with your chosen insurance provider.

We are investigating what this may mean for any areas experiencing local lockdown measures and this is pending confirmation from the Department for Education. We will update this question as soon as possible.

How do childminders manage drop offs and pickups from school? What about insurance?

Childminders and other settings should consider how they can work with parents and carers to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children. Where parents can manage drop-offs and pick-ups this should be encouraged. If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school, walking is preferable. If this is not practicable, then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport. Use of public transport should be minimised. If other children in your care would have to travel with you to do this, please check with their parents first to discuss any concerns. 

Settings, parents and carers should work through the ‘systems of controls’ collaboratively, to identify and address any risks and allowing them to jointly deliver appropriate care for the child.

We would encourage providers to work with parents to ensure any children who have to travel from one educational or childcare setting to another are supported to understand the importance of social distancing, regular hand washing etc.

The limit of meeting up with only 6 people outside who you do not live with does not apply to education and childcare activity. As when meeting up outside, if you are doing drop offs and pick ups, you must adhere to industry guidance and have evidenced the safety of the children in your care.

PACEY’s insurers are clear that your insurance provides liability, long as you implement the appropriate steps and actions that are set out in national industry guidance from Department for Education and Public Health England. 

This includes staying within their small group and within registered ratios, making sure risk assessments are completed thoroughly, demonstrating any necessary adjustments, evidencing parental permission and adhering to all hygiene requirements. It is also important that settings continue to not mix groups with other settings when outside. If you are not insured with PACEY then please check with your insurance provider.

Ultimately, you should use your best judgement and help parents understand whether it may or may not be possible to offer drop-offs and pick-ups at this time, especially if the parents of other children in your care have not agreed to their child leaving your setting.

**The guidance released in August for out of school settings and wraparound care states that these providers should keep children in groups of no more than 15, with the same children each time wherever possible, and that only if providers are unable to follow the protective measures in the guidance, should they keep children in groups of no more than 6, including staff members in line with the government’s guidance on social distancing. It is not envisaged that childminding activity would fall into the type of provision that cannot follow the protective measures.**

Can settings offer after school clubs holiday care?

As stated in guidance, “All providers of wraparound childcare, and other out-of-school settings, are able to operate for both indoor and outdoor provision, provided they have safety measures in place.

Wraparound providers which are only registered with Ofsted on the early years register should:

  • continue to follow this guidance, and
  • implement the protective measures set out for early years settings

Where wraparound providers are caring for children over the age of 5, they should:

Providers caring for children over the age of 5 should:

  • ensure, as far as possible, that they are keeping children over the age of 5 in small consistent groups every time they attend

In cases where providers care for both children under the age of 5 and over the age of 5:

Where providers have mixed age groups together:

  • they will need to, as far as possible, keep all children irrespective of age in small consistent groups of no more than 15 with at least one staff member or with more staff members to meet relevant ratio requirements

**The guidance released in August for out of school settings and wraparound care states that these providers should keep children in groups of no more than 15, with the same children each time wherever possible, and that only if providers are unable to follow the protective measures in the guidance, should they keep children in groups of no more than 6, including staff members in line with the government’s guidance on social distancing. It is not envisaged that childminding activity would fall into the type of provision that cannot follow the protective measures.**

Can I provide overnight care as a registered childminder?

Childminders can provide overnight care as long as they are registered and have the appropriate registration requirements in place to deliver this. They must also be able to adhere to current government guidance as much as possible.

Can families use grandparents to care for their children?

All children who normally access childcare are strongly encouraged to attend so that they can gain the learning and wellbeing benefits of early education. While many families will continue to use their registered childcare provider, especially for their entitlements, some may use grandparent or family care as they may have done before the pandemic.

National guidance states:
“We recognise that grandparents and other relatives often provide informal childcare for young children, and this can be very important. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case - and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.”

PACEY will continue to highlight the importance of early education, as well as where it is illegal to pay to use unregistered childcare. This change is part of all of us moving towards some form of normality.

We have more detail on what this means in a local lockdown in the first section of these FAQs.

Can community activities such as toddler groups/soft play reopen?

Yes. However, in areas affected by local restrictions, community and informal groups must follow the advice relevant to the affected area.

Groups that are held in registered settings should follow the guidance for early years and childcare providers. Groups in the community, such as those held in a church hall, community centre or scout hut, must follow COVID-19 Secure guidance for the venue. Where led by a facilitator in any public place supervising the activity, parent and child groups do not require participants to remain in groups of 6.

Informal support groups not covered by these exemptions can still take place if they do not breach the new gatherings limit of 6 people. This means that there is no limit on the number of people that attend so long as people are organised into groups of 6 (including children) and that these groups do not change for the session.

Can providers attend community activities that are open such as toddler groups/soft plays?

Many providers, especially childminders and nannies, attend community based activities like toddler groups. As stated in national guidance, supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups are exempt from the rule of 6. Where led by a facilitator in any public place supervising the activity, parent and child groups do not require participants to remain in groups of 6. So any such activity in a public place including parent and toddler groups, play groups etc can take place and you can attend these so long as you ensure you have -

  • done your risk assessments
  • talked to parents and obtained necessary permissions
     

Ultimately you will need to use your professional judgement on whether to attend or not. If you do, ensure you maintain the system of control that can reduce the risk of infection including repeated handwashing, face coverings for adults (if you think it necessary) and ensuring social distancing measures from those not in your group etc.

When deciding whether or not to attend such groups or activities, you should ask the organiser what steps s/he has taken to reduce the risk of infection. They should be following government guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities, which can be found here. You could also consider alternative arrangements such as looking for an alternative activity in an outside space.

Whatever you decide, it is important that you are able to evidence how you have risk assessed to ensure the safety of the children in your care. In addition limit the number of groups you attend.

Ofsted, first aid and the EYFS

What do I need to tell Ofsted?

Any confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the setting (either child or staff member), and/or if the setting is advised to close as a result, should be swiftly reported to Ofsted through the usual notification channels.

If you decide to re-open, or close, your setting, please let Ofsted know by emailing enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk with ‘Change in operating hours’ in the subject field and including your EY number. Please contact them using an email or phone number that is already known to them, and associated with your registration.

They are also providing rolling updates here - www.gov.uk/guidance/ofsted-coronavirus-covid-19-rolling-update

How is Ofsted managing inspections?

Ofsted has suspended most routine inspections due to coronavirus but are expecting routine inspections to resume fully in January 2021. However, some inspections will continue to take place. These will focus on:

  • provision that causes concern
  • registration of new provision
  • expansion to existing provision
  • Interim visits for those judged “requires improvement” or “inadequate”

Ofsted has said that it will carry out as much of its inspection activity as possible offsite. If they feel they have insufficient evidence to decide that children are safe, then an onsite visit will be made. Only inspectors who are not self-isolating will carry out urgent monitoring visits. They will plan the visit to ensure that they are on site for the minimum amount of time. In announced visits, they will agree in advance with the registered provider what activity they will carry out.

However it’s important to note that Ofsted have started to return to on-site registration visits (since June 2020). Individuals who have an application that is at the ‘ready for a visit’ stage will receive a telephone call from Ofsted to see if they can arrange a visit.

Additionally, in the autumn term, Ofsted will be gathering insight on how schools and other providers are bringing children back into formal education after such a long time away.

Interim visits to those who have been judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ who were issued actions for a breach of one or more of the EYFS safeguarding and welfare requirements (S&W) have been taking place since 1 September 2020. Inspectors will look at what progress providers have made to meet actions set at the last inspection and how they are improving their practice. Information will be gathered through an on-site visit, wherever possible.

The re-inspection date for these providers may have passed due to COVID-19, or the re-inspection may be due before routine inspections are due to restart.

Ofsted will not be checking whether a provider has met any learning and development (L&D) requirement actions set at the last inspection as they want to allow providers time to get back to normal following the pandemic.

These visits will not result in a judgement. However, Ofsted will publish a short summary on the providers page of the website. This will outline the actions a provider has taken to meet the requirements, along with any other actions Ofsted or the provider need to take.

What happens after an inspection?

After the inspection visit, the inspector should submit their evidence through the agreed channels. The inspector arranges for a draft version of the inspection outcome letter to be sent to the provider. The provider will be able to highlight any issues that it wants us to consider when finalising the letter, including any comments they may have about the findings and process. We will consider all comments submitted. If comments are submitted, the inspector will respond to them and this will be shared with the provider with the final version of the inspection outcome letter.

If the provider is not complying with all the requirements, the inspection outcome letter will include details of the action the provider must take and a date by when they must complete the actions. The provider must respond to us by the stated date setting out the action they have taken to comply and to confirm that they have taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance with all the requirements.

Ofsted will follow up any outstanding actions and send a reminder letter to the provider if they do not respond within the timescale. Any outstanding actions will be risk assessed by the regulatory team and action taken accordingly, such as referral to the region on cancellation. A senior manager in Ofsted will decide whether to carry out a further inspection within 12 months if any non-compliance was serious and/or we have reason to believe it may persist.

Ofsted will aim to send a final version of the inspection outcome letter to the provider within 30 working days of the end of the inspection. The provider may submit a complaint when we share the final version of the inspection outcome letter. If they do, the publication of the outcome letter will be delayed until the complaint has been investigated. Ofsted will publish this inspection outcome letter on the Ofsted reports website 8 days after this – 38 working days after the on-site inspection work has finished. The inspection outcome letter will remain on the reports website for a period of 12 months after the date of the inspection.

Does the Early Years Foundation Stage still apply? What flexibility is there? tell Ofsted?

The Department for Education amended legislation to allow for the temporary disapplying and modifying of a number of requirements within the EYFS, giving settings flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand while ensuring children are kept safe. These temporary changes came into force on 24 April 2020 and will be lifted on 25 September 2020.

As well as being reviewed on a monthly basis by the Department for Education there will then be a two month transitional period for disapplications around staffing levels and paediatric first aid. This is to recognise that some providers may need time to get back to full staffing levels once the disapplications are lifted.

From 26 September to 25 November 2020:

  • this is the transitional period for the safeguarding and welfare requirements that were disapplied (including paediatric first aid) – providers will need to work to re-instate the safeguarding and welfare requirements in full by the 26 November 2020.
  • all of the learning and development and assessment disapplications cease to apply as of 25 September – providers will be required to reinstate the EYFS for these areas in full from the 26 September.

If there are further restrictions related to Covid-19 such as local or national lockdowns, then new regulations that come into force from the 26 September 2020 would apply. They would only apply where a provider is prevented from complying with the prescribed requirements of the EYFS due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed on a geographical area by regulations or a direction.

The detail of these can be found here.

What happens if staff need to renew their paediatric first aid (PFA) certificates?

If PFA certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus (COVID-19), or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 25 November 2020 at the latest. This applies to certificates which expired on or after 16 March 2020. If asked to do so, providers should be able to explain why the first aider hasn’t been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps have taken to access the training. Employers or certificate holders must do their best to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.

Emergency First Aid

The Health and Safety Executive published guidance on first aid during coronavirus (COVID-19) which will support local risk assessments and provides guidance for first aiders. It is clear that treating any casualty properly should be the first concern. Where it is necessary for first aid provision to be administered in close proximity, those administering it should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands

Is there any flexibility in ratios?

The flexibility in ratios remains the same as it has always been. In the EYFS, paragraph 3.30 it states that ‘Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made.’ Ofsted consider the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak to be an exceptional temporary circumstance in which the staff to child ratios set out in the EYFS can be changed if necessary. However, childcare providers remain responsible for ensuring the safety and security of children in their care.

Amendments made to regulations from 24 April allow further exceptions to be made to the qualification level that staff hold in order to be counted in the ratio requirements. Settings should use reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of staff (excluding the manager) hold at least a full and relevant level 2 qualification to meet staff to child ratio requirements, but this is not a legal requirement.

You can find further information here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-foundation-stage-framework--2

Policies and contracts

How do I manage paperwork and policies with Covid-19?

You will need to continue to review your existing policies and procedures to ensure that they adequately cover the changes in circumstances and to ensure you can operate safely.

PACEY has updated key sample policies (including health and safety, risk assessment, illness and infection control and food and drink) for you to adapt to the specific needs of your setting. These policies are updated regularly as guidance changes.

You can also access a varity of paperwork in our Covid-19 reopening toolkit spotlight here - www.pacey.org.uk/working-in-childcare/spotlight-on/coronavirus/reopening-settings-coronavirus/covid-19-paperwork/

How should I manage contracts with parents?

All childcare businesses are individual, and you will know your business and your parents best.

If you have continued to remain closed (whilst other settings reopen) it is likely to be challenging to continue to expect your current parents to wait until you are ready to re-open. You should talk to them about why you are remaining closed and try to come to a mutually agreeable future plan. However these parents may wish to give you notice if they are unable to wait until you are ready to reopen.

Some childcare settings who are not charging their monthly fees have asked parents who can afford to, to pay a voluntary monthly retainer fee to help them stay viable and be able to open after the pandemic. If you do decide to propose a retainer to the families using your service, it will help to explain how this retainer will help you to cover the business costs that you will continue to incur even if you are closed e.g. insurance. Whilst not all parents will be able to do so – especially if they are also self-employed, for example - some may be happy to continue to support in this way but it is likely this will not be a realistic way forward if other childcare services start to reopen

Ultimately, you will need to decide if proposing a retainer fee is something your parents will be willing to pay, potentially for a number of months. You will have to balance your immediate financial concerns with your longer term plans to reopen.

Whatever you decide, be reasonable and balanced in your dealings with parents as you may want them to return to your service in the future or recommend you to others.

When you decide to reopen, you may want to review your current contracts with your parents before they return. In particular if you have agreed any special arrangements with them during the pandemic that may need to be reflected in your contract. PACEY has already updated its contracts for childminding (see the question below).

PACEY members can also contact the legal team for advice on individual contracts and you can also access information from the Competitions Market’s Authority on consumer law.

Have PACEY made any amendments to current contracts?

PACEY’s Childminding Contracts are tailor-made to meet your needs and include useful guidance notes to help you negotiate and agree terms with parents or guardians. The completion of a written childminding contract is a regulation requirement in Wales and part of the EYFS in England.

We have already updated these to ensure they reflect some of the issues that have already emerged as a result of the pandemic. This includes the addition of an agreed retainer fee if forced closure was to occur.

Now available to buy in digital form, the single-use contracts for childminders in England can be purchased individually. These contracts have been updated to cover enforced closures and pandemics. For help in completing digital contracts please see our provider FAQs.  

If you have already purchased a paper version of a PACEY registered childminding contract (England), we now have an addendum available, free of charge, to cover enforced closures. Please download and update the PDF and ensure that both parties sign and date it. This addendum should be stored securely with your existing contract.

What was the information shared by CMA regarding COVID-19 and retainer fees?

At the end of April, The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation regarding the early years sector and charging retainer fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. After this was announced, PACEY worked closely with CMA alongside sector colleagues the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) to provide evidence and information about the complex financial issues in the early years sector.

The CMA then issued an open letter to the sector as well as guidance specifically on Covid-19 restrictions and consumer law advice for nurseries and early years settings. 

Please make sure you read the full guidance as it contains clear and important guidance.

How has PACEY, NDNA and SCMA worked with the CMA?

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) have worked together with the CMA since the beginning of May to provide evidence and information regarding the complex financial issues in the early years sector. We also advised on the current guidance to make sure that providers have the correct information and knowledge going forward in regards to COVID-19 retainers fees and consumer law.

Are PACEY contracts and the addendum still fine to use?

Yes. Our PACEY contracts are regularly reviewed by our legal team. In light of this new advice and guidance from The CMA regarding voluntary ‘retainer’ fees, we have re-checked our contracts and have needed no change at this point.

Can I still charge for my holidays/bank holidays?

Yes. You can add charges into your contract such as holidays/bank holidays however, these must be clearly communicated with parents, approached in a fair way and with the clear agreement with parents. We have further advice regarding contracts and agreements here - www.pacey.org.uk/parents/working-with-your-childcarer/contracts-and-agreements/ 

Are parents going to be demanding refunds for retainer fees? Can they?

The CMA is asking providers to consider their contracts and arrangements with parents and take any necessary steps to ensure they comply with the law. If, after reading the CMA advice, you are unsure as to whether or not your charges were fair and reasonable, PACEY members can call the free Legal Advice line. If you feel you may have incorrectly charged your customers, you should proactively contact parents to discuss this and agree the best method of refund.

Equally, if a parent has asked for a refund for their retainer fee during a forced closure but you feel the charges were fair and reasonable then you should contact the parent in writing to explain why you believe your charges were fair and reasonable, stating how you have adhered to CMA’s guidance. If the parent continues to disagree, as a PACEY member, you can call our free Legal Advice line for support and advice on your specific circumstances.

I am still feeling worried about my contract after the release of the CMA guidance, where can I find further support?

In regards to the latest CMA guidance and advice regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and charging voluntary/retainer fees, we have some FAQs available to members here.

As every situation is unique, we would encourage all PACEY members to ring the free legal helpline if they wish to discuss their situation in more detail. The number can be found here.

How could I manage first aid reports and getting a signature from a parent when trying to social distance?

Given the current situation and if you are not able to obtain a signature in the normal way, we would suggest that you send the report to the parent via email or phone message. Where the parent normally signs, please write in the time/date and method the parent was informed as well as the time/date and method the parent acknowledged the report.

If you need further support, PACEY members can call the legal helpline.

The family of a child I look after are not adhering to government guidance while not at my setting – what can I do?

Both the setting and the families who attend that setting must adhere to government guidance at all times. This is to keep both them and the setting safe and prevent further outbreaks as we move through government reopening plans.

Before you re-open please make sure that you have all the correct policies and procedures in place and that parents are fully aware of these requirements, why they are in place and what is expected of them.

If you are aware of a family who are not adhering to government guidelines we would suggest that the setting contacts the family with a clear letter explaining and reminding them of the requirements previously set out and that they need to adhere to them. We would also recommend that you seek specific advice from the PACEY legal help line. This is a free service for members.

One of my employees who works at my setting are not adhering to government guidance when not working – what can I do?

It is important that employees understand and adhere to guidance when working and not working. We would suggest adding some information to your staff handbook to remind staff of your expectations. Below is some suggested wording.

“As an organisation we take the health and wellbeing of staff and children seriously. As such, we would expect all members of staff working within the setting to abide by any government recommendations, laws and guidelines on social distancing whether at work or in their private lives.  Any breaches of government guidelines on social distancing will be dealt with in accordance with our disciplinary procedures and may be treated as gross misconduct.

If you need any further information in relation to social distancing, please speak to [INSERT HR/MANAGER NAME HERE]”

Financial support

Is early years entitlement funding continuing for registered providers?

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that early entitlement funding for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds will continue to be paid to providers until the end of the autumn term at pre-pandemic levels.

The level of funding a local authority receives this year has been based on January 2020 data i.e pre COVID-19. However DfE recognises that there may be some local variation on how this funding is distributed to providers as local authorities balance supporting settings to reopen with those that choose to remain closed.

New guidance issued in July 2020 made clear that funding for the autumn term would be paid at the levels determined by the January 2020 census. The DfE continues to encourage local authorities to pass on that funding to registered providers, with one change to current guidance. Namely that, from September, the DfE is advising local autorities not to continue to fund childminders, nurseries and pre-schools that have decided to remain closed without a public health reason. We are aware of a number of members who are currently closed because of continued health concerns or because of lack of demand. This change to guidance comes with some notice and we hope gives them time to decide whether to re-open or not.

I am not sure if I am eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), how can I find out?

*This grant has been extended for an additional three months. Claims for the first grant closed on the 13 July.*

The Government have introduced an online tool to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim. Your tax agent or adviser can also use the online tool to check your eligibility on your behalf.

You’ll need your:

  • Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
  • National Insurance number

If you’re eligible

HMRC will tell you the date you’ll be able to make your claim from, and ask you to add your contact details.

If you can claim straightaway you’ll also need your:

  • Government Gateway user ID and password - if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility or make your claim
  • UK bank details (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
    • bank account number
    • sort code
    • name on the account
    • your address linked to your bank account

You’ll have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

If you’re not eligible
HMRC will use the information you or your tax agent or adviser sent us on your Self Assessment tax returns to work out your eligibility. If you submitted your returns between 26 March 2020 and 23 April 2020 check your eligibility again as the online service has been updated.

If you think you are eligible, you should first check who can claim or contact your tax agent or adviser for help.

If you still think you should be able to claim you can ask HMRC to review your eligibility.

Do I have to stop working if I am claiming the SEISS?

No, unlike furlough, claiming under the SEISS doesn’t stop you working and earning in line with government guidance but it is all taxable income.

What financial support is available to childcare providers?

You can use this short questionnaire to help identify what your business would be eligible for from the government www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder/y

There is a range of financial support available from Government:

  • Business rates holiday - Childcare providers are eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare (registered with Ofsted) will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April. This will happen automatically and more information can be found here.
     
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme - Self-employed childminders can claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
    • In the first phase, this scheme allowed you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. More information can be found here. This grant has been extended for an additional three months. Claims for the first grant closed on the 13 July. 
    • If you’re eligible for the second and final grant, and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020 you’ll be able to make a claim from 17 August 2020. You can make a claim for the second grant if you’re eligible, even if you did not make a claim for the first grant. Find out more about the extension to the scheme.
    • This second grant will be a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. You can claim for the second and final grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.
       
  • Coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) – This scheme will close on 31 October 2020. There will be a timetable for changes to the scheme which is set out below. Please note information for June, July and August is no longer included.
    • From 1 September 2020, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough as well as top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for the time they are furloughed.
    • From 1 October 2020, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

The table below illustrates the above where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time. If they are furloughed part time, this would change.

  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme - If your small to medium sized business (SME) is affected by coronavirus, you may be able to borrow between £2000 and £50,000 through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. This is also available to some self-employed people. You can check eligibility criteria here. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and for the first 12 months you will not have to pay any fees or interest, or make repayments.
  • VAT payments for next quarter will be deferred, therefore they will not need to be paid until March 2021.
  • Working tax credit has been increased by £1,000 a year.
  • For the self-employed (including childminders) the minimum income floor will be suspended meaning Universal Credit can be accessed at a rate to match statutory sick pay (SSP).
  • Further details on support for businesses is available here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

PACEY will continue to push Government to support you to stay in business and be able to deliver the childcare families will need after the pandemic. We are continuing to meet regularly with the Department for Education, and submit evidence to the Treasury Committee.

Are employers expected to pay assistants/staff when the setting is closed?

If you have a contract of employment with your assistant or staff member, as the employer you will be contracted to pay them a salary for a set period of time including any notice period. It will be up to you to decide if you can afford to pay them whilst closed or to consult them on a proposal to be made redundant. You should consider taking advantage of the government’s furlough scheme which will pay up to 80% of wages for employees unable to work due the coronavirus pandemic, up to £2,500 a month. An extension of the job furlough scheme was announced on 12 May until the end of October. This means it is possible to furlough rather than make an employee redundant for the next few months. This Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is relevant to any childcare provider employing staff who has had to close their setting or is at risk of making their staff redundant due to the Coronavirus.

On 29 May the Chancellor announced upcoming changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). These changes include new flexibility for employers to agree any working arrangements with previously furloughed employees from 1 July. HMRC will publish further detailed guidance on this, and the DfE guidance, available here, will be updated accordingly. You can read further guidance on this here from HMRC and the DfE guidance, available here, will be updated accordingly. You can also read further detail in the previous FAQ ‘What financial support is available to childcare providers?’.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing e.g. funded entitlement fees, the government expects employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.

Once the scheme ends, you hopefully will have built your childcare business back up. If not, you may have to consider staff redundancy as one way to reduce business overheads.

If you are still delivering a service and have staff working for you, you may be able to apply for the new Business Interruption Loan to help you meet immediate expenses, for example wages bills. Read more at www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils-2/for-businesses-and-advisors/

What do I do if I don’t qualify for the self-employed help scheme?

We are aware that some childminders, especially newly registered, will not qualify for help and continue to push Government for support of those childminders who receive no help. You should also consider applying for the other available options. A self-employed person could be entitled to a combination of Universal Credit + new style Employment and Support Allowance + Local Housing Allowance + Child Benefits to see them through the next few months depending on their circumstances.

Removing the minimum income floor means benefits will no longer assume that you earn a minimum amount and will take into account your actual earnings – meaning it will properly catch those who have seen their income fall to nothing.

In addition to these measures the government has worked to reduce the fixed outgoings of self-employed people. So you may also benefit from:

  • Rent deferral
  • Mortgage deferral
  • Tax Bill deferral
  • Business VAT deferral
  • IR35 deferral

If you apply for the self-employed scheme, can you apply for Universal Credit, or other sources of government support as well?

Yes. A self-employed person could be entitled to a combination of Universal Credit + new style Employment and Support Allowance + Local Housing Allowance + Child Benefits to see them through the next few months depending on their circumstances.

Removing the minimum income floor means benefits will no longer assume that you earn a minimum amount and will take into account your actual earnings – meaning it will properly catch those who have seen their income fall to nothing.

In addition to these measures the government has worked to reduce the fixed outgoings of self-employed people. So you may also benefit from:

  • Rent deferral
  • Mortgage deferral
  • Tax Bill deferral
  • Business VAT deferral
  • IR35 deferral

For further information regarding Universal Credit please follow these links:

I have a staff member who is on maternity leave, can I claim?

The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.

The employer may need to calculate your average weekly earnings, if the employee was put on furlough and then started leave on or after 25 April 2020 for:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

Your employer can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

If your employee has returned from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave after 10 June, the employee can still be furloughed, even if they are being furloughed for the first time provided:

  • the employer has previously submitted a claim for any other employee in their organisation in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June
  • the employee started maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave before 10 June and have returned from that leave after 10 June
  • the employer included you on an RTI submission on or before 19th March 2020

Read more here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Emotional health and wellbeing

I'm feeling very worried and concerned about the whole situation and having to stay at home is making me feel worse. What can I do?

Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important while staying at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you.

It's important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass. Staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it. So we have listed some useful resources and help if you need it.

  1. NHS Every Mind Matters
    Having good mental health helps us to make sense of difficult times and enjoy our lives more. Take a look at expert advice, tips and more from the NHS support.
  2. Mind 
    It is absolutely normal to be feeling anxious and worried about Coronavirus. Resources from Mind recognises this and give you tips and practical support to help.
  3. Public Health England
    Access some easy to read advice and information on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  4. Samaritans
    The coronavirus outbreak is affecting the way many of us live our lives, and it's normal that this will affect people's mental health. The Samaritans have gathered some resources together to help. If you need someone to talk to, please don't forget you can call the Samaritans at any time, for free, by calling 116 123.

What training support is PACEY offering?

PACEY has been building new, free, short courses as part of EY smart. You can access our newest courses tackling topics including trauma and bereavement, all of which will support your business and the children in your setting as you prepare to reopen in June or whenever you decide to.

You can register for free here - https://eysmart.pacey.org.uk/

The early years and childcare sector is playing a key part in the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive, adds; 
"I just wanted you to know that every single member of staff and every volunteer at PACEY is standing firmly behind you; working tirelessly to ensure you have the support you need to get through this difficult time. We are a small charity but we make up for it with our determination and dedication to support all of our members as well as the wider sector.”