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Guidance for parents and childcare providers.

First published:
26 March 2021
Last updated:

Parents

Accessing Childcare and play services

Can I use childcare and play services?

Yes childcare services are open, including day care, child minding, sessional care, crèches, out of school/holiday provision, staffed playwork provision and Flying Start provision. Nannies can also provide childcare and there is guidance available for nannies

There is guidance to help childcare settings ensure that their services are safe. This guidance outlines the control measures that reduce the risk of transmission in childcare settings and is under constant review. Guidance for operating open access play settings remains in place.

How can settings ensure they stay safe?

The control measures outlined in our Protective Measures guidance continue to be the best way to ensure safety at settings. 

Settings should continue to ensure that both staff and children practise good hand hygiene and that effective cleaning and ventilation measures are in place. 

Settings need to ensure they maintain records on attendance to support Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) processes and follow self-isolation requirements by not allowing children or staff who should be self-isolating to attend the setting. 

Settings need to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. As part of this settings will need to ensure that regular risk assessments are undertaken of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the setting and that those attending or visiting the setting are advised on how to minimise that risk.

Can my child attend more than one setting, for example a day care setting and a childminder?

Yes. Parents will need to discuss arrangements with both settings and be satisfied that the different settings are operating in line with the Welsh Government’s guidance on keeping everyone safe. All the settings involved should also be aware the child is attending more than one setting.

If your child becomes symptomatic they would need to stop attending both settings, and you would need to inform both settings. If your child is asked to isolate they should not attend the other setting either and you should also inform the other setting they have attended.

Can I use childcare/play settings for my school-aged children?

Yes. Parents will need to discuss arrangements with both the school and the childcare provider and be satisfied the different settings are operating in line with the Welsh Government’s guidance for childcare settings and schools on keeping everyone safe. All the settings involved should also be aware the child is attending more than one setting. 

If your child becomes symptomatic they would need to stop attending both the school and childcare setting, and you would need to inform both settings. If your child is asked to isolate they should not attend the other setting either and you should also inform the other setting they attended.

I use a childcare/play setting which is based on a school site. Are they open?

Yes, these settings are able to open.

I use a childcare/play setting based in a community hall/church hall/leisure centre /sports venue. Are they open?

Yes, these settings are able to open.

Can I use family or friends as informal childcare?

Yes, but children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill. 

Are parks open?

From Saturday 17 July there are no longer any restrictions in place on the number of people who can gather anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events.

However, you are still advised to make your own judgement and avoid large gatherings wherever possible, this would include busy parks.

We encourage frequent handwashing or sanitization, not eating or drinking in parks, wiping down playground equipment with your own wipes, and maintaining low numbers within playgrounds and on equipment by taking turns or using them at less busy times.

Are children’s playgrounds open?

Yes. The benefits of outdoor play to children are significant and keeping parks and playgrounds open supports children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Outdoor environments are lower risk in relation to coronavirus transmission.

From Saturday 17 July there are no longer any restrictions in place on the number of people who can gather anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events.

However, you are still advised to make your own judgement and avoid large gatherings wherever possible, this would include busy playgrounds.

We also encourage frequent handwashing or sanitization, not eating or drinking in playgrounds, wiping down equipment with your own wipes, and maintaining low numbers within playgrounds and on equipment by taking turns or using playgrounds at less busy times.

Can children play outside in the street in their neighbourhoods?

Yes. The benefits of outdoor play to children are significant and keeping parks and playgrounds open supports children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Outdoor environments are lower risk in relation to coronavirus transmission.

From Saturday 17 July there are no longer any restrictions in place on the number of people who can gather anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events.

However, you are still advised to make your own judgement and avoid large gatherings wherever possible, this would include busy playgrounds.

We also encourage frequent handwashing or sanitization, not eating or drinking in playgrounds, wiping down equipment with your own wipes, and maintaining low numbers within playgrounds and on equipment by taking turns or using playgrounds at less busy times.

Will we still be able to access Family Support Services?

Yes, Family Support Services will still be running.

Are organised activities for children allowed?

Organised activities for the development and well-being of children and young people (known as regulated gatherings in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations) are allowed indoors and outdoors. This includes sports clubs, parent and toddler groups, youth groups and religious groups. This applies to children aged under 18 (or persons who were aged under 18 on 31 August 2020).

More information on children’s organised activities is available.

The current restrictions mean I can’t work or I’m now working fewer hours and earning less than the minimum earnings threshold for the Offer. Can I still receive the Childcare Offer?

If you still have a contract of employment (for example, you may be working fewer hours now and receiving UK Government support as an employee or self-employed person) you can continue to access the Offer but you should notify your local authority if your working arrangements or income changes.

From the end of September 2021, if you no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the Offer you will enter a temporary exemption period of 8 weeks at which point you will no longer be eligible for Offer funding

Childcare/Play providers

I can’t operate my childcare/play setting in the way I normally would because of Covid-19 (e.g. my staff are having to self-isolate or I cannot access the premises where my services would normally run). Can I have any funding to help me through this period of temporary disruption?

If you currently have Childcare Offer funding you can continue to be paid based on booked hours in some circumstances where Covid-19 is causing disruption to childcare services. You should contact your local authority and discuss this with them.

Details of the full range of Economic Resilience Fund support for businesses can be found here.

What will the impact be on Flying Start during this time?

Flying Start settings will remain open during the current restrictions as far as this is practicable and safe for both children and staff, therefore children should be able to attend Flying Start childcare settings as normal. We anticipate that the vast majority of Flying Start support services will continue in some form although some disruption to services may be unavoidable.

Could some of my workforce be required to shield?

The advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to follow shielding measures has now been paused. Guidance for people, including children, who are extremely vulnerable to developing serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus because they have a particular serious underlying health condition is available.

For staff worried about being a higher risk of more serious symptoms, the COVID-19 workforce risk assessment should be completed. Staff are encouraged to share the results with their employer who may then take appropriate action.

Can I claim the Job Support Scheme (JSS) if my workplace is closed or if my working hours are reduced?

Please see our pages on financial support.

You may also find it helpful to talk to your local authority about your options in terms of funding support, especially if you are also in receipt of Government funding to deliver the Childcare Offer or Flying Start.

I’m self-employed, can I have a grant from the government to cover my losses?

Please see our pages on financial support.

You may also find it helpful to talk to your local authority about your options in terms of funding support, especially if you are also in receipt of Government funding to deliver the Childcare Offer or Flying Start.

Can I accept placement students who work at my setting as part of the process for achieving their qualification and the assessors who assess them?

Yes, placement students are considered as staff and assessors from training providers are able to visit to ensure practitioners are able to gain their qualifications. Social Care Wales have provided advice on how to do this safely.

Can I accept visits from local authority staff for grant award and monitoring purposes?

Local authority staff are able to visit settings if there is no alternative way of obtaining the necessary assurances in relation to grant awards and monitoring, but all appropriate steps should be taken to ensure any visits are carried out as safely as possible.

Can I accept visits from prospective parents/carers?

Where precautions are taken and risk assessments allow, settings are able to facilitate parents/carers visiting a setting in the evenings or at weekends (outside normal operating hours) when considering using a setting for the care of their child. These visits are at the discretion of each setting and must be arranged in accordance with the Welsh Government’s guidance on keeping settings safe.