FAQs - Coronavirus

Unsurprisingly there have been thousands of questions asked in the last few weeks 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

What happens if I am in Leicester and the local area affected by the current local lockdown? 

As part of the new local lockdown, if you are an early years childcare provider based in Leicester you are now required to close your setting to all but children of key workers and vulnerable children from Thursday 2nd July for at least two weeks.

You should have received information from Leicestershire County Council and/or Leicester City Council regarding next steps. Please do stay up to date with information from Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council. The area impacted is defined in red in the map below and the measures will be reviewed after two weeks.

PACEY’s insurers are clear that your insurance provides liability, so long as you implement the appropriate steps and actions that are set out as part of your local lockdown including government guidance and Public Health England guidance.

As part of this local lockdown you must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible, leaving only for work or essentials (such as food shopping).
  •  Keep 2 metres apart from people outside your household.
  •  Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
  •  Always wear a face covering when on public transport or in any confined public space, including work spaces where 2m distancing is not possible.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, please get tested as soon as you can. You can book your test online at nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call 119. The main symptoms of coronavirus are: 

  • high temperature  
  • continuous new cough  
  • loss of smell  
  • loss of taste. 

As soon as there is any further guidance we will update this FAQ.

Is there specific educational guidance if I am part of the local lockdown in Leicester?

Yes, you can read the guidance for educational and childcare settings in Leicester and the affected parts of Leicestershire. Key points include:

  • From 2 July, educational and early years settings must only remain open for priority groups - children and young people who are vulnerable, and the children of critical workers who absolutely need to attend - definitions and lists are available here
  • The fewer children and young people making the journey to educational settings, and fewer children and young people in these settings, will help control the virus at this stage.
  • Leicester and Leicestershire local authorities are responsible for monitoring demand and capacity.
  • Early years providers should speak with parents and carers to discuss any changes in the attendance of their children and should work together with parents and other local partners where relevant to identify any vulnerable children and decide whether they should continue to attend their provision.
  • It is not compulsory for the children of critical workers to take up a place made available for their child. If the child can stay at home, they should.
  • For vulnerable children who have a social worker, or those who are deemed otherwise vulnerable by their provider are expected to attend unless the child/household is shielding or clinically vulnerable. Those with an EHC plan, attendance is expected where it is determined, following a risk assessment in consultation with educational settings and parents/carers, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in their setting. More information on this here.
  • Early years providers should continue to make an assessment of the staff required as they have been doing through the period of national closures and wider opening. If you need further support, contact your local authority.
  • If staff are clinically vulnerable, or clinically extremely vulnerable, they should continue to follow the advice set out in the guidance on implementing protective measures.
  • Relaxation of shielding measures, due to take effect nationally on 6 July, will not now take place in Leicester and the surrounding area.
  • The local measures will be kept under review, and will be reviewed in two weeks. 

Please do read the full guidance here.

 

Setting logistics and working with others

Why aren’t childminders in England being treated the same as Ireland, Wales and Scotland?

Education and childcare are legislative powers that have been devolved to these home nations. This means they make their own decisions on childcare including how they are responding to the Covid 19 pandemic. This may be because their communities need different responses or because the pandemic has progressed differently in their countries.

Can I get tested for Coronavirus?

In England - tests for Coronavirus are available for:

  • essential workers with symptoms
  • people who live with essential workers and have symptoms

This means essential workers (including anyone working in childminding or a nursery or pre-school) as well as members of their household can have a test to find out whether they have the virus. Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing. You can find out where your nearest testing centre is by contacting your local authority or through the government booking system.

See the full list of essential workers and further information on how to get tested.

In Wales:

To be eligible for a test you must be a critical worker or a household member of a critical worker showing the following symptoms:

  • a high temperature 38˚C or above
  • a persistent cough or shortness of breath
  • a loss or change in sense of taste or smell

Find out more information here regarding testing in Wales.

See separate guidance for information about who can get tested in:

Will children and young people be eligible for testing?

Children and young people eligible who attend settings, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. As childcare practitioners are key workers they can access a priority test. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative. Testing has now been made available to all age groups. It can be accessed by visiting NHS.UK to arrange or contact NHS 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access.

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

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

If registered to deliver childcare on domestic premises, four or more childminders (or a mix of four 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.

The government in England has now said that people who cannot work from home can now travel to work, but should avoid using public transport. Childminders and their team or assistants can travel to their place of work in the same way that staff in pre-schools or nurseries can do so. You should always follow latest advice on how to travel to work safely.

Government guidance stresses the importance of reducing contact between different groups of children and staff as much as possible so it is important that childminders working together use their professional judgement to agree how they can best follow the guidance in their specific circumstances. For example, you may decide to keep children, as far as possible, in the same small groups every time they come to your setting, with the same childminder as their key worker as far as possible.

From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings. 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. All other protective measures must remain in place.

If a member of staff (if you are childminding) has underlying health conditions should they be working?

Government guidance states that if a staff member is clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable then they should be observing government’s current guidance until at least the 6 July. At this point Government advice changes in terms of meeting outside, social distancing in their household and creating a support bubble. However, “from 1 August the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.” This means that if a member of staff falls into this category they can now return to work if they cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe.

Until the beginning of August it is therefore unlikely that a staff member classified as clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable would be able to attend a childcare setting in order to work. When this advice starts to change from July, you should take time to talk to any affected staff members to understand what support they may need to be able to return to work and to reassure them you have taken the steps advised by Government to ensure you have reduced the risk of infection. Every circumstance will be different and, if necessary, you can contact PACEY legal advisors free if you are a member.

The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable group remains advisory. More detailed advice will be updated by the government as the changes in advice come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.

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.

If you, or a member of your family (if you are childminding) have underlying health conditions should you be working?

Government guidance states that if you or a member of your family are clinically vulnerable then they should be observing social distancing guidance as set out by government guidance (see below). If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should not work. Equally, if you live with someone who has a serious underlying health condition, you need to think carefully about whether opening is right for you. 

From "1 August the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.” This means that you if a member of staff falls into this category they can now return to work if they cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe.

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.

Please see the appropriate guidance below.

If the child in your care is living with a shielding or clinically vulnerable person should they come to your setting?

*Please note the upcoming changes below regarding clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable people below*

If a child, young person or a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.

If a child, young person or staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, it is advised they only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and, in the case of children, they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.

However, 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 practise frequent hand washing and social distancing.

If a child has a raised temperature, should they be away from the setting for 48 hours or 14 days?

Government guidance encourages you to amend your current policy on sickness management to ensure your setting has a protocol in place for responding to a suspected case of coronavirus and that you are prepared with the resources and staffing levels to implement this if necessary.

If anyone, child or adult, becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance. If you are unsure they are exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms always be cautious, a sick child or staff member should be at home.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. 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 two metres away from other people.

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

PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).

In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in my setting?

When a child, young person or staff member develops coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for seven days or longer if  symptoms persist and seek a test as soon as possible, ideally within three days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. 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.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of the children in their group within your setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that group of children do not need to self-isolate unless their child, young person or the staff member they live with subsequently develops symptoms. For childminders, this may mean that their setting has to temporarily close if all the children cared for make-up that group of children, as everyone will need to self-isolate.

We are currently seeking government advice on whether you need to contact children or staff that have worked in your setting on previous days to ask them to self-isolate, as we recognise not all staff or children attend a setting every day of the week. Much will depend on the size of your setting, frequency of staff and children attendance and how you have structured the smaller groups of children in your setting.

Has the floor space requirement increased as a way to understand what minimising numbers could look like so the boundaries are clear?

No. EYFS ratio and space requirements remain the same. You should use your professional judgement to decide how best to change the layout of your setting to enable you to maintain smaller groups of children who do not mix with other groups in your setting as much will depend on the specifics of your setting and the number of children attending.

Can Nannies work? Can I care for non-key worker families?

Yes, the government has been clear in its amendment to guidance that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household from now and that, so long as the infection rate of the virus continues to reduce, that nannies like other childcare providers, can return to their usual way of working from June 1. This means that if you are a nanny working for more than one family, you can care for all these families’ children from June 1, so long as you follow the guidance on how to reduce the risk of infection from the virus.

Reopening

Do we have to open?

It is up to you as an individual to decide what’s best for your business. Carry out risk assessments, talk to your staff, clients and family to discuss reopening and the measures that you will have to put in place in order to do so safely and within government guidance. It’s a decision only you can take depending on your circumstances.

There is no legal requirement to re-open and, while for nurseries and pre-schools, there is the potential for local authorities to demand that you re-open if they do not have sufficient supply of childcare places in the local area, this is highly unlikely to be a power that they need to use. This power does not apply to registered childminders because they work in private homes.

For childminders working in their own home, you should include members of your household in that risk assessment and make your judgements based on it.

If you or a household member are extremely vulnerable you should not return to work if you think there are risks, do an assessment and talk to your GP before deciding what to do.

I usually take care of a child with a pre-existing medical condition, can I accept them into my childcare setting?

Children and young people (0 to 18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. The government does not expect these children to be attending school or college, and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible.

If a parent asks you to care for a child in this category, you need to explain this is not safe and you will not be insured for this child as caring for them would be against latest government guidance.

Can I choose which families I feel need to come back first? E.g workers in non-keyworker roles.

While from the 1 June you can look after all children, If you feel you cannot meet this new guidance and care for all the children who want to attend your setting, you may want to prioritise who attends by following government guidance – This states settings should prioritise groups of children as follows:
 

  • early years settings– 3 and 4 year olds followed by younger age groups
  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and reception
  • primary schools – nursery (where applicable), reception and year 1

Can we look after children from school years that are not being allowed to return to school from 1 June?

Childminders are allowed to care for children of all ages from 1 June as long as you are able to effectively follow government and EYFS guidelines.

Schools are fully reopening from September.

If we are open and a child decides not to attend does that mean full fees apply?

This will depend on what you have agreed in your contract with parents. Remember that PACEY members have access to legal help and support for contract queries.

 

If a parent has managed to work from home up until now, why should that change now?

This will be a parental choice. Managing childcare alongside working from home can be challenging. Talk to the parents you’ve worked with about their plans and preferences and discuss possible options to return, if appropriate. 

 

Can early years settings look after all children?

Yes, in childcare settings, providers can 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.  

Why can’t my extended family come into my house but I can accept children from other households? How do I keep my own family safe?

Government guidance on meeting extended family members has been developed on the basis of scientific advice that indicates there is a risk, especially to older family members, of infection if extended families begin to mix in the community. This guidance is regularly reviewed. The decision to open childcare settings from June 1 is based on scientific advice that young children are less likely to mix in the community, especially if their family is doing as guidance asks and staying home wherever possible and not meeting with extended family.

 It is up to you to decide what’s best for you and your business. It is a difficult decision to balance your livelihood with health concerns. You should open when you feel ready and remember, by following the guidance, you will reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Will the numbers of children I look after be limited based on the space I can provide? Who governs this?

Current requirements on ratios and space are not changing so, from June 1, you can care for as many children as you are registered for. Following the guidance here and in the DfE early years toolkit to ensure you are keeping the children in your care in small groups and doing all you can to reduce the risk of infection. If you feel you cannot meet this new guidance and care for all the children who want to attend your setting, you may want to prioritise who attends by following government guidance – This states settings should prioritise groups of children as follows:

  • early years settings– 3 and 4 year olds followed by younger age groups
  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and reception
  • primary schools – nursery (where applicable), reception and year 1

Can children attend more than one setting?

To minimise contact between groups of children and staff, children should attend just one setting wherever possible and parents and carers should be encouraged to minimise as far as possible the number of education and childcare settings their child attends. Childminding 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.

From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings however, it is still important that mixing children is minimised wherever possible and all settings should still avoid attendance at more than one setting where possible.

If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school, walking is preferable. If this is not practical, then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport.

If demand for places is higher than the setting’s capacity when measures to allow physical distancing between groups are in place, it may be necessary to have a temporary cap on numbers of children attending the setting. Solutions might involve working with the local authority to support children attending a nearby setting on a consistent basis. If necessary, settings should prioritise vulnerable children and children of critical workers, then 3 and 4 year olds, in particular those who will be transitioning to reception in September, followed by younger age groups.

Find more advice here.

If a parent has one child of school age, and one in the early years, could both children attend the childminder’s setting?

Childminders can care for children of all ages so long as they are registered with Ofsted to do so and so can offer care to both pre-school and school age children of the same family.

To minimise contact between groups of children and staff, children should attend just one setting wherever possible and parents and carers should be encouraged to minimise as far as possible the number of education and childcare settings their child attends. Childminding 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.

If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school, walking is preferable. If this is not practical, then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport.

I employ an assistant, how do I go about ensuring they are ready to return to work?

Talk to staff about your plans (for example, safety measures, timetable changes and staggered arrival and departure times), including discussing whether extra training would be helpful. Ensure they are aware of what to do if they are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus (following the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection).

I am pregnant. Should I re-open?

Pregnant women are classed as being in the clinically vulnerable group who are at higher risk of severe illness as set out in the Staying at home and away from others (social distancing) guidance and have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing.Further advice will be updated on this question next week.

Social distancing in my setting

As a childminder, can my own family go in the areas where I am caring for children?

Yes – Ofsted has clarified the position on this and has stated that members of a childminder’s immediate household are able to share the household space, but that non-household family members and friends are not able to visit them in their house thereby following current Government guidance.

Do I need to review the activities I offer in my setting to prevent children sharing resources?

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.

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.

Malleable resources, such as play dough, should not be shared between groups and public health advice is that, as sand pits cannot be thoroughly cleaned between uses, they should not be used at this time.

Consider how resources can be used safely and in which circumstances and which items it might be more practical to remove during this time.

Find more support from PACEY here.

Should I change children’s clothes when they enter the setting each day?

We are awaiting specific guidance on this however, guidance at the moment says that there is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of both yours and the child’s clothes following a day in a childcare setting.

Are we able to care for children who require nappies changing? Maintaining social distance will be impossible.

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.

How do I social distance in my setting? For example, can I still use a double buggy?

It is widely recognised that you cannot maintain social distance with young children and so supporting them to stay in small groups, as set out in government guidance, helps to reduce the risk.

Government has asked settings to consider their premises and how they can be best used to keep small, consistent groups of children together throughout the day. However, for settings such as childminders, there may be fewer children, so necessary adjustments may be different. It may be difficult for childminding settings, where family members are also present, to limit their use of shared spaces, however settings could consider whether a specific room could be designated for childcare during the day.

Where social distancing cannot be maintained when travelling with buggies, side by side is better than face to face. However, most important is to ensure you maintain the small groups of children you have established in your setting even when you are out and about. So the children sharing a buggy need to be from the same small group. We are expecting more detailed guidance on travelling with children as well as hygiene guidance for key equipment such as buggies.

Are children ok to still bring in their comforters to the setting? Or is this not complying with hygiene regulations?

Childcare settings should develop 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.

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.

Should mealtimes, table and seated activities follow social distancing guidance of 2m?

This will depend on the size of the setting. Guidance asks settings to consider how snacks and meal times can be planned to ensure groups of children are kept together. You may want to consider staggering lunch breaks, for example. Children and young people should clean their hands beforehand and enter in the groups they are already in, groups should be kept apart as much as possible and tables should be cleaned between each group.

How do I manage comforting children and first aid not related to Coronavirus whilst social distancing?

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.

Do I need to take children’s temperatures each day?

Government guidance states that settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning or throughout the day. Public Health England’s guidance is that routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus. There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a childcare setting.

How do I manage drop offs and pick-ups at my own setting?

 

Government guidance is encouraging there to be reduced contact between parents and carers when dropping off and picking up their children, for example by limiting drop off and pick up to one parent or carer per family and staggering timings. Do not allow parents or carers into the setting unless this is essential, and arrange for children to be collected at the door if this is possible.

As some young children will not have been attending a setting for a number of weeks and may be feeling anxious, work with parents and carers to consider how best to manage dropping off their children while maintaining physical distancing.

Avoid the need for parents and carers to wait, but where they have to, consider whether physical distancing markings could be used.

Consider how you can use technology to communicate with parents and carers digitally, for example when providing handover information at the end of the day.

Read further guidance here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-early-years-and-childcare-settings-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-early-years-and-childcare-settings#Section4

PPE

Do early years and childcare settings need personal protective equipment (PPE)?

The government has stated that wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings. Childcare settings should therefore not require staff and children to routinely wear face coverings.

Changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measures in controlling the spread of the virus. The majority of staff in settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work e.g. nappy changing.

If anyone, child or adult, becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. 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 two metres away from other people.

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

PPE such as a face mask should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).

Once the child or member of staff has left the setting, settings should followadvice in Cleaning of non-healthcare settings to ensure areas they have been in are disinfected and any PPE and other waste is disposed of safely.

In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.

Further guidance can be found here.

When should PPE be used?

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases including:

  • Children whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
  • if a child becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.
  • There are no additional PPE requirements because of coronavirus (COVID-19) for first aid, or for non-symptomatic children who present behaviours which may increase the risk of droplet transmission or who require care that cannot be provided without close hands-on contact.
  • If you do have to use public transport then guidance is clear that as of the 15 June 2020 it is a legal requirement in England and strongly advised elsewhere to wear a face covering on public transport. You will not be allowed to travel on public transport in England without a face covering and you could be fined if you fail to comply. You can read further information here including those who are exempt including children under the age of 11.
  • It is also a requirement in line with government recommendations to wear a face covering at all times when visiting a hospital or any medical establishment including GPs. Read more about this here, including those who are exempt, including children under the age of three and anyone with breathing difficulties.

Further guidance on the general use of PPE in settings can be found here.

Where should I obtain PPE?

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.

Going outside, wrap around care and holiday care

Can settings still take children outside or on trips?

If your setting has a private outdoor space, you should maximise use of this space. Plan how outdoor space, where available, can be used as much as possible. Consider how all groups of children can be given equal opportunities for outdoor learning, while ensuring outdoor equipment and toys are appropriately cleaned between being used by different groups.

Childminders and early years providers may take small groups of children to outdoor public spaces, for example parks, provided that a risk assessment demonstrates that they can stay two metres away from other people at all times. This should be restricted to small groups and should be done in line with wider government guidelines on the number of people who can meet in outdoor public places. Providers should not take larger groups of children to public outdoor spaces at one time.

From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings however settings should still consider how they can minimise mixing within settings. This includes continuing to not mix groups with other settings outdoors and children still attending only one setting where possible.

The government have confirmed that “Childminders and early years providers may take small groups of children to outdoor public spaces, for example parks, provided that a risk assessment demonstrates that they can stay two metres away from other people at all times. This should be restricted to small groups and should be done in line with wider government guidelines on the number of people who can meet in outdoor public places. Providers should not take larger groups of children to public outdoor spaces at one time.”

Do we all need to wear face coverings if we use public transport?

You should still avoid using public transport wherever possible. Walking is the best way to move around. If this is not possible, then you can use your car as long as you are remaining in your bubbles and adhering to hygiene guidance. 

If you do have to use public transport then guidance is clear that as of the 15 June 2020 it is a legal requirement in England and strongly advised elsewhere to wear a face covering on public transport. You will not be allowed to travel on public transport in England without a face covering and you could be fined if you fail to comply.

You can read further information here, including information about those who are exempt. Exemptions on public transport include children under the age of 11.

Can I collect children from school? How do I manage wrap around care?

Managing pick-ups and drop offs with other children in your care would not appear to support current guidance and, where possible, the parents need to consider using one childcare setting for all their care to minimise risk.

Guidance has stated that childminding 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 this is not possible and a provider has to pick-up/drop-off a child, walking is preferable. If this is not practicable then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport. 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. 

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.

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

I am a childminder and normally offer after school clubs and holiday care, will I still be able to do this?

Yes, childminders can reopen and provide care for all children.

Wraparound providers which are registered with Ofsted or with a Childminder Agency and run before and/or after school clubs on school premises or in early years settings, and can ensure they follow the protective measures guidance, are able to operate.

The Prime Minister announced on 23 June that from 4 July, as part of Step 3 of the government’s recovery strategy, wraparound care providers operating from other premises will be able to open. Protective measures guidance has been published to support these providers.

Read more guidance here.

 

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.

Parents and at home learning

What are the expectations on settings regarding staying in touch with parents whose children are at home?

Some families may still wish to keep their children at home when childcare settings are open. Many childcarers have been working hard to stay connected with their families and to support them with additional learning material. Continuing this proactive approach to stay in touch and share resources for children who are at home should be encouraged if possible. Just some of the online resources available are:

Ofsted and the EYFS

What do I need to tell Ofsted?

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

49. What is Ofsted currently doing? When will Ofsted inspections resume?

Ofsted has suspended all routine inspections due to coronavirus but are expecting routine inspections to resume fully in January 2021 including the full reinstatement of the EYFS. However, some inspections will continue to take place. These will focus on:

  • provision that causes concern
  • registration of new provision
  • expansion to existing provision

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.

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. To be able to monitor progress and regulatory standards, inspectors will commence some regulatory activity and be making visits to those who have been judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ and have associated actions to fulfil as well as a wider sample. Inspectors will look at what progress leaders and managers have made to meet actions set at the last inspection and how they are improving their practice. These visits will not result in a judgement. However, Ofsted will publish a short summary to confirm what it found during the visit.

**update to on-site registration visits only in next question - From 8 June 2020, Ofsted have started to return to on-site registration visits.**

When will Ofsted commence pre-registration inspections?

From 8 June 2020, Ofsted have started to return to on-site registration visits. 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.

Further information can be found as part of Ofsted’s rolling update.

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

The Department for Education have 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 until further notice.

Full details of the amendments can be found in the guidance on Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS), which also includes details about how the temporary arrangements will be brought to an end.

Settings and local authorities should fully familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure they understand the flexibilities available to them and are meeting the modified requirements, especially in relation to paediatric first aid, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Early years settings only need to use reasonable endeavours to deliver the learning and development requirements set out in the EYFS. The priority at this time is keeping children safe and well cared for. The government’s early years planning guidance encourages practitioners to “Consider how stories, singing and games can be used to help children to socialise and resettle into familiar everyday routines.”

PACEY has developed some ideas for how you can support your children to help them transition back into the childcare setting here.

Is there any flexibility in ratios?

Paragraph 3.30 of the EYFS 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

Insurance

Will my insurance cover me from 1st June?

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.

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 LA guidance says local schools and EY settings should remain closed despite national guidance that we can reopen. Do I now have to stay closed?

No you can still reopen. We are aware that a handful of local authorities are asking schools and in some cases also early years providers to delay re-opening, due to their local assessment of virus infection levels. Local authorities are the employer of local schools and, in this capacity, can issue such guidance to their schools. However, as most childcare and early years settings are run by PVI providers, they do not have the same authority over them. Whilst you can consider local authority guidance in assessing whether you should reopen or not, you do not have to adhere to it and, as a PACEY member, if you have our insurance you are provided with indemnity no matter what your local authority guidance states as long as you are following national guidance. Others should check with their insurer.

It is good practice as part of your risk assessment and planning process to make a record of the specific measures you are taking to mitigate against any of the particular risks that your local authority has referred to in issuing its guidance. You should also consult with staff so that their views are included in the risk assessment process and that they feel comfortable to return to work.

In the future there is a possibility that local lockdowns may be implemented if and when the Coronavirus infection rates increase in one local area. The system and guidance that would enable local authorities to do this has yet to be finalised by government and, until it is, registered providers should always follow national guidance. PACEY will be actively seeking to comment on any draft proposals for local lockdowns, given the significant impact they will have on children, families and, of course, members and other providers.

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

Yes. 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.

Contracts, policies and PACEY membership

What about the contracts I already have 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.

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.

Why do PACEY contracts not contain a force majeure clause?

Unfortunately, these are unprecedented circumstances.  The view of our legal team is that even with a force majeure clause, it would be extremely unlikely any business could continue to charge customers for a significant period of time without providing their services. In writing our PACEY contracts, we also have to be mindful of the unfair contract terms provisions contained in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The recently launched investigation by the Consumers Markets Authority will consider unfair charging practice in the childcare sector. We are submitting evidence to this investigation and will updated our advice on this matter, once its findings are published later this year.

Government has also made clear that it does not want providers to continue to charge parents for a childcare service that is closed. There is a range of financial support available to childcare providers to help them cope with the financial impact of Coronavirus. Given this, Government and Ofsted have asked that providers are reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents.

You will know your business and your parent’s best. Whilst you should not charge them when your setting is closed, you could follow the example of some childcare settings who are not charging but are asking parents who can afford to pay, to pay a voluntary monthly retainer fee to help you stay viable and able to open your childcare business after the pandemic. Whilst not all parents will be able to do so, some may be happy to support you in this way as they will need your childcare service in the future.

Do I need new policies?

You will need 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. You can also access further support on the PACEY re-opening toolkit page.

We are also currently seeking advice on what further steps you may need to take to demonstrate that your setting has taken reasonable steps to ensure the risk of infection from the virus is reduced. This will be available by the end of May.

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]”

 

What options are there in regards to paying for PACEY membership?

We have a number of ways in which you can spread the cost of paying for your membership. You can find out about the different options here - www.pacey.org.uk/COVID-payment-plan

Financial support

Is early years entitlement funding continuing for registered providers?

The Department for Education (DfE) have re-confirmed that early entitlement funding should continue to be paid to providers over the summer term, as it has been throughout the pandemic and that DfE has paid local authorities in the usual way for the summer.

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

However this should be in the context of what LAs usually do. In terms of the medium to long term i.e. autumn term, the DfE will be preparing updated guidance for local authorities once they have decided how to undertake the 2021 census, so that they better understand the size and scale of change in take-up of entitlements that local authorities have experienced since the pandemic. This new guidance will be issued as soon as it has received Ministerial approval.

In the meantime, if members who usually deliver funded early education places are told by their local authority that their expected payments may have to change, PACEY would like to know as we are aware of a few some local authorities who are not following this guidance and have said they will no longer pay funded entitlement if a setting remains closed.  Let us know by emailing policy@pacey.org.uk.

Please note, if you claim furlough for staff and your setting also receives funding to deliver entitlements, you may not be able to claim the full amount of staff salaries if that staff member is responsible for delivering entitlements.

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 close on the 13th 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 will allow 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 close 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. While the scheme will continue as normal throughout June, from 1 July, there will be a timetable for changes to the scheme which is set out below.
    • For June and July 2020, employees (including Childminding Assistants) who are not working but kept on payroll, the Government will contribute up to 80% of a worker’s wages of up to £2,500 for the hours the employee is on furlough, as well as employer national insurance contributions (ER NICs) and pension contribution for the hours the employee is on furlough –
    • From 1 July 2020, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.
    • From 1 August 2020, the level of grant will be reduced each month. To be eligible for the grant employers must pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.
    • 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 regarding the CJRS 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 we recently submitted 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 https://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.”