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Guidance for parents and childcare providers.

First published:
26 March 2021
Last updated:

Parents

Accessing Childcare

Will I still be able to use childcare and play services?

Yes childcare services are open, including day care, child minding, sessional, crèche; out of school/holiday provision, staffed playwork provision and Flying Start provision, as long as it is legal for the premises from which they operate to be open. Nannies can also continue to provide childcare. 

There is guidance to help childcare settings ensure that their services are safe. This guidance 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, that staff maintain a 2m distance from other staff both during and outside of sessions and that contact groups are kept consistent and as small as possible. 

It is important that if settings take children from more than one school, they are in school based contact groups as a minimum; year or class based groups are better.

My childcare provider is in a different local authority from the one where we live. Can I travel to access childcare for my child?

Yes, you can travel between local authorities in Wales and there are currently no restrictions on travelling into or out of Wales. 

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

This is permitted, but parents are asked to carefully consider the risks. Parents will also need to discuss this 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 that 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 as a close contact of a child at one setting, they should not attend the other setting either and you should inform the other setting.

Can I use childcare for my school-aged children?

This is permitted, but parents are asked to carefully consider the risks. Parents will also need to discuss this with both the school and the childcare provider and be satisfied that 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 that 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 as a close contact of a child at one setting, they should not attend the other setting either and you should inform the other setting.

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

Yes, these settings are able to open.

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

Childcare can continue to operate from these premises but only if the premises is allowed to be open. The owner/manager of the property should be able to advise. Community halls and places of worship may open for public services, including childcare, although many entertainment and sports venues are required to close under current restrictions. Where settings are open, relevant protective measures should be observed.

Can I use family or friends as informal childcare?

Yes, but this form of unpaid childcare should only be used when no other options are available. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill. Adults dropping off children for childcare should not enter someone else’s home unless they form part of that household’s support bubble.

Are parks open?

Parks are allowed to remain open for outdoor exercise. You can attend parks with members of your household but you must not arrange to meet with other households.

Operators of parks and playgrounds need to follow existing guidance in order to be open.

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.

However, risk cannot be eliminated, and parents and guardians are encouraged to ensure playgrounds do not get too busy, and take responsibility for social distancing, especially for adults and children over 11. In particular, while up to 6 people from 2 households (not including children) can meet outdoors, you must not arrange to meet with numerous other households at playgrounds.

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

Operators of parks and playgrounds need to follow existing guidance in order to be open.

Can children play outside in the street in their neighbourhoods?

Yes, if they do not have access to other outdoor space, if it is safe to do so and if they are supervised appropriately by adults. The benefits of outdoor play to children are significant and being able to play outside supports children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Outdoor environments are lower risk in relation to coronavirus transmission.

No more than 6 adults from 2 households can meet at any one time socially.

Young children (under 11) are not included in the number because studies have found that young children are less likely to transmit the virus, whether to other children or to adults, and the virus appears to take a milder course in children than in adults for most cases. This has also been done so as not to prevent parents with larger numbers of children from meeting with other adults.

However, as young children can still transmit the virus, parents of young children should still exercise their good judgement, and take care especially to encourage their children to follow hand hygiene measures and keep close contact to a minimum wherever possible. Even with children it is safer to meet in smaller numbers, and to meet the same people regularly rather than a range of different people. We also advise that children aged under 11 avoid mixing with children from more than one household at any one time

Children aged 11 or over are covered by rules in the same way as adults.

Will we still be able to access Family Support Services?

Yes, Family Support Services will still be running.

Are activities and clubs for children allowed to run?

Yes – outdoor activities run for the development and well-being of children and young people, such as sports clubs, drama classes, parent and toddler groups, youth groups and religious groups are allowed. This applies to children under 18. Indoor activities and residential activities are not currently allowed.

Organisers have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that these activities take place in a way that minimises exposure to coronavirus. Therefore, they should consider the space available to allow social distancing as far as is possible with children and not to maximise the number of children that can attend.

More information on outdoor children’s organised activities is available.

I am not able to work because the firm/business I work for is closed because of the current restrictions. Can I still receive the Childcare Offer?

If you still have a contract of employment (for example, you may be temporarily away from the workplace and receiving UK Government support) you can continue to access the Offer but you should notify your local authority if your working arrangements or income changes.

The current restrictions mean 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.

Childcare Providers

I run an after school club, can I operate?

Yes as long as you can still operate from your normal premises.

I provide wrap-around provision, can I operate?

Yes as long as you can still operate from your normal premises.

My setting is based in a community hall, can I still operate?

Yes, these types of premises can remain open for childcare.

My setting is based in a church hall/chapel hall/leisure centre/sports venue, can I still operate?

You can continue to operate from your premises but only if the premises is allowed to be open under the current restrictions. The owner/manager of the property should be able to advise. Community halls and places of worship may open for public services, including childcare, although many entertainment and sports venues are currently required to close. Where settings are open, relevant protective measures should be observed.

I can’t operate 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?

Childcare Offer funding 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

I live and work in different local authority areas. Can I travel to my childcare setting to work although it is in another local authority? 

Yes, you can travel between local authorities in Wales and there are currently no restrictions on travelling into or out of Wales. 

Could some of my workforce be required to shield?

Guidance is available 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.

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 of 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 still 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 would be considered essential visitors to ensure that practitioners are able to gain their qualifications. Social Care Wales have provided advice on how to do this safely.