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Coronavirus - Update for Early Years Settings

Last update: 7 April 2020

New updates on settings closing and FAQs sections below.


 

The Department for Education (DfE) have a dedicated website and helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

DfE Coronavirus contacts

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Public Health England has a dedicated webpage with a range of posters and digital materials.

Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available.


 

Updates on COVID-19

  • Latest DfE information (social media):

 

What is the current advice for settings in remaining open or closing?

  • Update 25 March: The guidance is that childcare settings should remain open if possible, only to provide care to vulnerable children/ and key worker groups (also known as critical workers) and no other families. See FAQs below for further information of keyworkers.

  • Children must remain at home where possible, this is also applicable to keyworkers particularly if children can be looked after safely at home i.e. with a partner who is not a key worker.
  • If you assume not to have a child in the vulnerable children/key worker groups the Council is advising you to close your provision to assist in the measures implemented from government to control the spread of COVID-19.

  • Update - 25 March: If any setting temporally closes,
    we politely ask if you can remain contactable in the event of the requirement 
    to pool resources, buildings, staff and cluster working hubs between settings for children in the 
    vulnerable/key worker group. Please contact our team to inform us of closure and/or an assistance offer.

  • If your setting closes and has keyworkers who need to find childcare, we ask if you can liaise with any local settings who may be open to accommodate families. Otherwise please signpost keyworkers to our service at: eeac@staffordshire.gov.uk where we will attempt to broker childcare.

What does this mean for funded places?

  • As announced by the Chancellor those settings that remain open and have families not attending due to government advice to stay at home, will continue to be funded for places that children cannot attend for.
  • Similarly, settings will continue to be funded for places on claims already submitted for all children if the setting must temporally close due to lack of staff, no keyworkers/ vulnerable children or a suspected outbreak of Covid-19.
  • Funding will be paid on new claims for children who were not added to the summer forecast and who will actually attend for a funded place in the summer term i.e. vulnerable children/ key workers groups. Please contact the finance team by 27 March 2020 if you wish to add these children to a claim so the next payment can be made - see below for details.
  • The spring amendment task is now open until 3rd April for any adjustments/ additions to made for the period children attended between January - March 2020
  • The spring amendment task is now open until 3rd April for any adjustments/ additions to made for the period children attended between January - March 2020
  • Any setting that permanently closes could have funding reclaimed from the date of closure as is standard practice at any time. See FAQs below.

How will the funding payments be made?

  • The council has decided to award 100% of funding in a lump sum to all providers (regardless of option chosen) who have completed a summer forecast.
    This payment will be made as soon as possible sometime in April. Providers will not be asked to
    pay any of this funding back who are temporally closed due to current restrictions/ COVID-19

Reminder

Communications and letters from the Council and DfE


 

Frequently asked questions

Update - 7 April 2020:

Can clarity be provided about the definition of vulnerable children and what do we do if a parent brings in a golden ticket?

Vulnerable children now include only children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. In some cases evidence maybe required.

Golden tickets

Some families may have recently received a golden ticket, it was unfortunately too late to recall these. Except for Looked After Children, EHCP, SEND, and families of keyworkers (as these are the only children settings can now look after), all other golden tickets are now null and void.

For those settings (who are still open) who need to validate a golden ticket for a key worker/ vulnerable child should follow the instructions on the golden ticket (which must you retain) to obtain a code for two year funding.

Update - 25 March:

Where can settings obtain information on grants, business rate holidays and information for paying staff and employee advice?

Business advice from government related to COVID-19 will advise settings on:

  • business rate holidays for 12 months
  • small business and rural rate relief
  • job retention scheme - contributions of up to 80% for employees
  • business Interruption Loan Scheme for 12 months interest free
  • deferred VAT payments
  • self-employed deferring income tax self-assessment
  • settings in shared spaces could benefit from 100% rate relief and more.

Is the council co-ordinating a response for early years?

Yes, over the last week we have been contacting childcare settings with help from our colleagues at Entrust to obtain information or which settings can stay open, share staff, resources or buildings. This picture is changing daily and we are potentially looking at creating local hubs for areas that could require assistance for keyworkers and vulnerable children. We will update settings as this progresses.

Do we have to consider social distancing elements for parents dropping off and picking up children?

Yes, settings are advised to adhere to social distancing guidance, particularly in relation to parents collecting/ dropping off children and congregating in foyer areas.

Can clarity be provided about the definition of who the keyworkers are?

Government has released information on vulnerable children and the keyworker list. Settings are strongly advised to follow this list and for any family that are not classed as keyworkers must not be allowed into the setting.

The list does not provide deeper clarity i.e. staff serving fast food, therefore settings are advised to strongly consider that such groups are not considered to be part of this list and therefore not critical/ keyworkers.

Update - 26 March:

What support is there for childminders - ref self employed?

The Chancellor has announced a package of support to the self-employed sector that has been effected but the virus outbreak.

This support means that the self-employed could claim up to 80% of profits up to £2500 per month as a direct cash grant. Further information will be shared shortly by HMRC who will use tax returns dating back to 2016 to determine the size of the grant for individuals.

Before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans where they have a business bank account.

Updates - prior to 24 March:

What if a child has a parent who is not a keyworker, but the other parent is a key worker (i.e. nurse)?

In these cases, parents must be encouraged to keep children at home to be looked after by the non-keyworker parent. Settings are strongly advised to adhere to this government guideline to aid the measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Where else can settings go to seek advice about other business, insurance and potential impact of an enforced closure?

Settings are advised to contact their insurance company to seek advice on their policy in the event of a closure. Settings are also advised to contact organisations such as the NDNA, Pacey, EY Alliance (formerly PLA). 

Funded child moving setting?

If a keyworker parent (or vulnerable child) wishes to move from a setting that has had to close, the parent will be allowed to do so as funding will follow the child and the new setting will be alble to submit a new claim.

What should childminders do if a family member in the same household is in isolation due to a symptom of COVID-19?

The government advice if that visitors should not be allowed into the household. Childminders who had a keyworker /vulernable child may must temporally close until the 14 day isolation period has passed (or longer in some cases), and that person is no longer showing symptoms of COVID-19. Please review the funded places section above.

What if settings close permanently?

The Council will be paying 100% of funding up front for the summer 2020 term. However, as per the provider agreement (clause 13.20) any setting that permanently closes (resigns from Ofsted) could have funding reclaimed from the date of closure as is standard practice. This could include settings who informed us prior to COVID-19 restrictions being in place of a closure date that would be in the summer term. 

Any setting that permanently closes on or before 31 March 2020 will not be paid for the summer term or money will be reclaimed. Registered childcare settings must inform Ofsted if permanently closing.

If settings have any further enquires not covered above which are related to early education funding for 2, 3 and 4 year olds who can they contact?

Contact our team and we will endeavour to provide or seek a response. 

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