After understanding that they would open, along with other early years providers, on 1 June, childminders have now been given the green light to get back to business immediately.
According to latest guidance, childminders who up until now have been closed can now open for a child or children from one other household, providing it is in line with current guidelines to minimise the risk of spreading infection. There is no cap on the number of children they can care for from one household.
Those who are already open and currently caring for children of key workers or vulnerable children, can stay open and continue caring for these children. However, the guidance states that no more new non-eligible children should be taken on.
Individuals have the decision whether to open now or take time to prepare to open to all children from 1 June.
This clarification by the Department for Education yesterday follows the publication of the prime minister’s exit strategy roadmap, which seemingly stated that childminders should return to work from 13 May, but which was at odds with separate guidance published by the Department for Education, which said that early years settings should open for more children from 1 June.
The June reopening will be subject to a final decision by government on 28 May and is dependent on the rate of COVID-19 infections continuing to decline at the current rate.
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At the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) chief executive Liz Bayram says: ‘The clarification PACEY finally secured from Government late last night has made clear childminders can open in a limited capacity from today if they want but there is so much more we need to do to help them and other providers make the difficult decision whether to re-open or not.’
Ms Bayram says that childminders are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
‘Whether they open now or in June, they are struggling to decide not only if it is financially viable to reopen with what is likely to be reduced demand from parents but whether they can do so without placing their own families at too greater risk.
‘The mixed messages and confusion from government make this all the more difficult to decide, especially when told you can still not mix with family members but you can bring minded children into your own home.’
“There is still much more to do in terms of supporting childminders as well as other pre-schools and nurseries to prepare their services for what is a new operating environment and to reassure parents too. Government not only needs to work with us and other sector bodies to do this but to understand its guidance recognises the nuances of different childcare types.
‘We are producing advice for members that will be available from the end of this week and added to over the coming days. We are basing this on the experience and learning of the many childminders and other providers who have remained open to critical workers’ children and vulnerable children since March.’
The update to the guidance for early years and childcare settings will be published by the Department for Education shortly.