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What you need to do if your Flying Start staff have moved to other work and changes to budgets during the coronavirus pandemic.

First published:
28 May 2020
Last updated:

Redeployment and staffing

What you should do if your front line staff have been deployed to other work

We recognise that some of the core elements of our programmes will be disrupted during the outbreak of COVID-19. We have produced and circulated revised temporary guidance to acknowledge this. You will need to keep a record of the staff and activities if they are diverted from their usual roles. For further information regarding payment arrangements please see the Children and Communities Grant (CCG) COVID-19 guidance.

Can Flying Start childcare staff, be used to help out in settings as some are closing down due to lack of staff?

Yes, every effort should be made to ensure that the local Flying Start childcare workforce is redeployed to best meet local demand where this is possible. Please refer to the CCG COVID-19 guidance for recording such instances

Advice for families concerned about their child's language development

All services can expect some degree of disruption during the outbreak of COVID-19 and we recognise that it is unrealistic to maintain the levels of additionality normally provided by our programmes. We have issued temporary programme guidance in response to the outbreak which advises that local authorities should use Allied Health Professionals to make assessments of priority work and manage any identified risks. Professionals should follow up to date Guidance and support from Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and their professional bodies.

local authorities should make parents aware of the reduction in Flying Start Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) services and put in place appropriate cover, where possible, from SLC teams/early language teams to field enquiries, providing advice for parents via telephone and signposting them to other information channels (Facebook, videos, Tiny Happy People).

Please refer to the CCG COVID-19 guidance for recording changes in staff roles

Childcare

What are the arrangements for the continuity of payment to Flying Start childcare service

To ensure the sustainability of Flying Start childcare, you can continue paying registered and Local Authority run Flying Start settings for 3 months commencing 18 March 2020, as announced by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services.

A further announcement was made regarding the repurposing of the Childcare Offer on 6 April 2020 by the First Minister, stating free childcare will be offered to the children aged 0 to 4 for parents who are key workers to respond to COVID-19. To ensure there is no duplication of funding, Local Authorities should use the CCG to pay for Flying Start eligible childcare in the usual way, childcare provided in/through Flying Start settings for the purpose of supporting the Covid 19 response (children of critical workers and vulnerable children not within the Flying Start area or outside of the Flying Start childcare age range would be funded through the Childcare Offer.

How should Flying Start childcare support the emergency childcare response during the COVID-19 Outbreak?

On 20th March the Welsh Government published advice relating to restrictions to service provision across the childcare sector following earlier announcements made in relation to school closures. Flying Start settings are, first and foremost, childcare settings and therefore should defer to this advice and apply it to the provision of Flying Start Services.

The Welsh Government announced the introduction of the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme on 6 April. This scheme is designed to offer funded childcare places for pre-school children of critical workers and those covered by the Government’s definition of vulnerability.

This scheme is universally available to the priority groups set out above and, consequently, supersedes the provision of Flying Start childcare services while it is operational. 

Flying Start funding is still available to local authorities for 3 months from March 18 and, as such, the Flying Start workforce should continue to remain engaged as part of their local authority’s Coronavirus childcare assistance scheme wherever possible.

Flying Start childcare services should return in line with guidance once the disruption caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 is over.

Please also see the answer to what are the arrangements for the continuity of payment to Flying Start childcare services?

Can we close Flying Start settings if there is no demand for them?

Flying Start settings should stay open for as long as there is a demand for childcare provision from priority groups. Flying Start settings will be expected to contribute to the Local Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme and local authorities should ensure that Flying Start services are taken account of when planning services locally.

Monitoring and reporting

Is there flexibility to routine end of year monitoring and reporting arrangements?

The quarter 4 (Q4) claims for 2019 to 2020 are due 30 April 2020, however, the Funding Alignment Team has recently contacted local authorities to establish if you wish to extend the time frame for submitting the 2019 to 2020 Q4 claim.

Flexibility has been provided in relation to the reporting of Flying Start programme monitoring data. As advised, the Knowledge and Analytical Services Team, which manages Flying Start data have delayed the deadline for submission, however you should still record your data.

Can we have guidance around what should be included in the Q4 claim. For example, are we including ordered but not delivered goods, are we including commissioned training and how do we deal with activity which has paused but not been cancelled?

Further guidance will be issued shortly from the Funding Alignment team in relation to your Q4 claim this will include activities which were paused or cancelled in 2019 to 2020, and whether unspent funding can be used in 2020 to 2021. In the meantime, please keep a track of activities and associated expenditure you want Welsh Government to consider.

What constitutes a health visitor contact as virtual contacts are not usually counted but the majority of families will move to virtual contacts through phone calls or video calls?

Our Healthy Child Wales Programme colleagues at Welsh Government have confirmed that Health Visitors are encouraged to count virtual contacts in the same way as they would have counted face to face contacts previously during this period of time.

Budgets

Can we accrue funding from 2019 to 2020 financial year to 2020 to 2021 for courses that have now had to be postponed until later in the year?

Due to social distancing requirements to stop the spread of COVID -19, we are aware that some planned activities such as training courses, group sessions or similar needed to be cancelled, which has resulted in funds not being allocated to services as intended.

It is permissible to utilise the planned expenditure from the final few weeks of 2019 to 2020 (which would usually form part of your Q4 claim) on activities which needed to be postponed as a result of the impact of COVID -19 in the 2020 to 2021 financial year. Strict monitoring will need to be in place for a clear audit trail to demonstrate the cause of any underspend, the amount carried forward, and clear links to expenditure for the ‘carry over’. You will not be able to claim for more than the outturn provided in your Q4 estimate submitted to the Funding Alignment team in March 2020, and any expenditure relating to 2020 to 21 planned activities should be claimed in that financial year.

If you wish to carry over funds from 2019 to 2020 into 2020 to 2021 on the basis described, please contact the Funding Alignment Team. More advice on how to claim this will be issued separately.

Will funding for Flying Start childcare be paid after Easter for those children who would be newly eligible to start in April or is it just those who are already registered at a setting?

Yes, costs you expected to incur as a result of your commitment to deliver Flying Start Childcare services can be claimed from the Children and Communities Grant.

If we are forced to close settings, are we able to claim from the CCG?

Staff employed through the CCG funds should be paid in full throughout this 3 month period as per the UK Government criteria set out in their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance

Can we carry over any unspent funds in the 2019 to 2020 financial year to 2020 to 2021?

Please see the answer to Can we accrue funding from 2019 to 2020 financial year to 2020 to 2021 for courses that have now had to be postponed until later in the year?

Can we pay for services as per contracts even if they cannot operate or when staff have been redeployed/repurposed (we need to support these so they are fit to restart once this is over)?

Staff employed through the CCG funds should be paid in full throughout this 3 month period as per the UK Government criteria set out in their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance. 

How do we make sure we are not paying for places twice with the new commitment from Welsh Government for Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme funded places?

To ensure the sustainability of Flying Start childcare, you can continue paying registered and local authority run Flying Start settings for 3 months commencing 18 March 2020, as announced by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services.

A further announcement was made regarding the repurposing of the Childcare Offer on 6 April 2020 by the First Minister, stating free childcare will be offered to the children aged 0 to 4 for parents who are key workers to respond to COVID-19. To ensure there is no duplication of funding, local authorities should use the CCG to pay for Flying Start eligible childcare in the usual way, childcare provided in/through Flying Start settings for the purpose of supporting the Covid 19 response (children of critical workers and vulnerable children not within the Flying Start area or outside of the Flying Start childcare age range would be funded through the Childcare Offer.

Contact us

If you have further questions relating to provision of your programme, please contact your Welsh Government Account Manager directly or via mailboxes.

Email: FlyingStart2@gov.wales

If you have any further questions relating to financial matters that are not covered above, please contact the Welsh Government Funding Alignment Team.

Email: FlexibleFunding@gov.wales

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