Opening of Early Years Settings
Please continue to keep the local authority informed of your opening plans by using the Early years returns. Your Early years link worker will email reminders to complete this.
Remaining open during National Lockdown
The COVID situation is continually evolving. At present all early year’s providers (including registered childminders but not including reception years in primary schools) can remain open during this period of national lockdown.
To help provide clarity we have compiled some Questions and Answers based on current guidance.
Please make sure you keep up to date with government guidance including the guidance issued by Public Health England on the management of COVID-19.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) contingency framework for education and childcare settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Somerset educational setting action card – Important – Early years settings can either contact the local public health team at email@example.com or the DfE line on 0800 046 8687 and selecting the option for reporting a positive case. The line will be open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Management of COVID in early years children – Actions for parents and carers
- COVID-19 early outbreak management – early years settings
- Guidance – Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- Guidance – What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- Rapid asymptomatic coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in early years settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) This page provides important information on how to access asymptomatic testing for all early years staff
- Childminders should continue to access home test kits at www.gov.uk/guidance/rapid-lateral-flow-testing-for-households-and-bubbles-of-school-pupils-and-staff
The Educational Psychology Service is offering an individual training opportunity for all staff working in early years settings, and schools to support children and young people as they return following the COVID-19 restrictions.
The session is approximately 90 minutes long and is accessed through YouTube It includes several short activities and opportunities for reflection within in it.
Update to Spring 2021 Early Years Entitlement letter dated 14 January 2021
Current Lockdown restrictions remain in place until 8 March 2021 at the earliest.
We will continue to provide funding in the following circumstances:
- Where a setting receives a local Public Health directive to close, we will continue to provide funding for the period of closure up until the end of the Spring term 2021 funding period (31 March 2021).
- Where parents wish to keep their children at home but retain their place at a setting we will continue to fund up until the end of the Spring term 2021 funding period (subject to review and subject to the setting remaining open). Please ensure that the parent agrees with the hours continuing to be claimed and that they have provided a signed parent’s declaration form confirming the hours.
- Where staffing is reduced, or a setting is forced to close because of sickness we will continue to fund for all children on roll up until the end of the Spring term 2021 funding period (subject to review). Should any setting have concerns about their ability to open safely due to reduced staffing, we would urge them to notify their Early Years link officer as a priority and we will support them to assess the situation and whether funding can continue to be claimed.
If you are not open to all, please be advised that parents that cannot access a place at your setting can choose to use their hours elsewhere and therefore the funding will follow the child. Where settings have chosen to close to all or some children, these parents should not be charged a notice period if they choose to take their entitlement hours elsewhere.
Please note that the terms and conditions of the Provider Agreement April 2020 still apply to those offering and claiming the early years entitlement. All normal deadlines for the Spring term 2021 apply and there will be no exceptions to this.
Where to find information
Watch back our Spring Term Provider Information Evening for updates: https://tinyurl.com/ProviderEvening
Education Psychology Service Helpline – Phone support for parents and carers.
Department for Education helpline: 0800 046 8687 – Opening hours: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday
Latest Department for Education information
Business and financial support
You can find Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care guidance on www.gov.uk. Please note sector specific guidance for early years.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to 30 April 2021.
Useful Guidance on sources of financial support – PACEY
See the web links for sources of financial support including for the Self-Employed
Latest information and advice for businesses
Guidance, advice, support packages and information are being released and updated on a daily basis for businesses and the self-employed. For current details please visit the COVID 19 web pages on Heart of the South West Growth Hub.
Responsibilities to staff when closed
Please adhere to employment regulations and liaise with childcare’s insurance (legal team)
Useful Guidance on Coronavirus – advice for employers and employees – ACAS
COVID-19 Hardship Grant
If your setting is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 then you can apply for up to £10,000 using the COVID-19 EY Hardship fund. Your link worker can send you the application form and accompanying guidance documents. Please note that the hardship fund is available to all settings including childminders and wrap around care providers. If your setting is experiencing financial hardship due to a drop in income because of reduced numbers of funded children or fee paying children then you can apply.
*Please note that this is subject to financial scrutiny and a successful application process. The hardship fund is a temporary fund and currently available until 31 March 2021.
Advice for staff, parents and children
Please adhere to government guidance and follow the NHS advice
Wellbeing – Every Mind Matters
Resources for talking to children about COVID-19
Holiday clubs and out of school settings
Guidance on protective measures for Holiday and Out of School Settings – updated 20 August 2020
Guidance for parents and carers of children attending Holiday and Out of School Settings – updated 20 August 2020
Protective measures for Holiday and out of school clubs during COVID pandemic (updated 27 November 2020)
Paragraph 3.30 of the EYFS states:
‘Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made.’
We consider the extent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to be an exceptional temporary circumstance in which the staff to child ratios set out in the EYFS can be changed if necessary. However, childcare providers or schools remain responsible for ensuring the safety and security of children in their care and for their staff.
Ratios for childminders remain maximum of 6 children under the age of 8 years.
The DfE will be asking early years practitioners to use their best endeavours to complete the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile for children in the summer term 2021, however it will not be mandatory.
If you haven’t found what you need, or need more support please phone us on 0300 123 2224
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