Coronavirus: Childcare Information for Parents
Lockdown measures to slow the spread of coronavirus have shaken up our normal everyday routine. We at Yoopies understand that this is a deeply stressful and confusing time for families. Do I keep paying my childcare costs if my childminder isn’t working? Can my nanny come to work? How do I find emergency childcare as a keyworker?
Keeping up to date with the latest guidance is a little tricky and you may have a lot of questions, but you’re not alone! We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions by parents to ensure you are 100% clear about your childcare during coronavirus. By the end of this article, you’ll be confident enough to lead the Coronavirus Daily Briefing on all things childcare related! (Last updated 13/05/2020)
1) Can I use childcare?
The most recent Government advice recommends that if your child can safely stay home, parents should keep their children home until schools and early years settings begin to re-open. The Government is starting a phased return to school from the 1st of June for certain year key year groups including Reception, Year 1, and Year 6. The Government aims to allow some face-to-face contact with key-exam year students (Year 10-12). Phased return to schools will only go ahead if the 5 key safety tests are met by this time.
Paid childcare providers that work in a child’s home, such as nannies are able to return to work, however, both nanny and family should follow the safety advice outlined by the Government. You should not allow your nanny to work if you, your family or your nanny show coronavirus symptoms. Parent employers are expected to ensure safety guidance is followed. We recommend that if you employ a nanny, you take the time to discuss with them how you plan to put in place safety measures within your household. This could include travel, hygiene in the house, distancing from family members who are not in direct care. While we would love to see a return to normality, we continue to encourage parents to consider how essential their childcare is before booking care, and when using care to follow Government Guidelines.
Registered childcare providers that provide care outside of your home, such as childminders, are now able to take care of children from one household, if they are not already taking care of a vulnerable or keyworker child(ren). From the 1st of June, childminders are allowed to re-open to more children, provided that the UK has met the 5 safety tests. We recommend getting in touch with your childminder to find out their plan to reopen.
Nurseries may welcome back children from the 1st June.
The Government continues to advise that parents should not rely on informal childcare such as grandparents during this period. For tips and guidance on staying home check out our #StayAtHome Guide here.
2) What are the 5 key tests?
To ensure that hospitals can cope with coronavirus cases and to avoid a second peak, the Government is keeping track of the current situation according to 5 tests.
1. Protecting the NHS's ability to cope.
2. Sustained and consistent fall in the number of deaths caused by Coronavirus
3. Rate of infection to be 'manageable'
4. Testing capacity and PPE equipment can meet future demands
5. Confident that adjustments and changes to lock down measures does not risk a second peak and overwhelm the NHS
3) What is a key worker or a vulnerable child?
Key-workers are those that are deemed by the Government to be essential to the running of the country. Key-workers are allowed to continue going to work due to their necessity in the fight against Coronavirus. Some examples include:
The full list of key-workers can be found here.
Vulnerable children include: children with wellbeing and safeguarding needs such as a child in need plan, a child protection plan or EHC plan, those in social care, young carers, and disabled children.
4) I am a key-worker, how do I find childcare?
Childcare platforms such as Yoopies, allow you to find childcare according to your postcode. Local Councils are also responsible for overseeing childcare for parents that are key workers. Further information is available on your local council website.
5) My childminder has temporarily closed, should I keep paying for my child’s place?
Whether you continue to pay your childminder or not is for you to decide with your childminder. Some parents are continuing to pay the full rate, others are paying a partial rate as a ‘retainment’ fee for their child’s place and some have stopped payments altogether. Should you voluntarily choose to keep paying your childminder, remember to put this in writing to avoid any financial disputes down the line.
Many Childminders have told us that they do not have access to the Self Employment Grant, this particularly impacts newly registered childminders that have been open for less than one year. Some childminders that are able to access the grant have said the aid does not reflect their current earnings when taking into account high business costs. We, therefore, recommend that parents have open discussions with their childminder to find a mutually beneficial compromise.
Registered childcare providers that provide care outside of your home, such as childminders, are now able to take care of children from one household, if they are not already taking care of a vulnerable or keyworker child(ren). From the 1st of June, childminders are allowed to re-open to more children. Many childminders are preparing their settings with new guidance and best hygiene practice. Get in touch with your childminder to find out their plans.
6) Can my nanny still work?
According to the Government, nannies are able to travel to work. Nevertheless, to keep in line with social distancing rules parents should not force their nanny to work if they feel unsafe. Nannies should be following the safety precautions outlined by Public Health England Guidelines which include:
- Regularly washing hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, particularly after coughing or sneezing and when arriving or leaving work.
- Using a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throwing it away immediately after use.
- Disinfecting objects and surfaces regularly
- If your nanny, yourself or someone in your home is showing symptoms
- Avoiding close contact with family members that your nanny is not directly caring for
- Encouraging your nanny to avoid public transport where possible and to suggest wearing a face mask should they have to use public transport. If possible, suggest that your nanny walks or bikes if it is within a reasonable distance, take their own car or pick and drop your nanny off yourself if they do not have access to a car. More advice on travel can be found here.
- Not using your nanny if a family member is in a high-risk or shielding category
- Avoiding touching your nose and eyes.
Further Government advice on cleaning can be found here.
Further Government advice on personal hygiene and adaptation of childcare settings can be found here
Live-in Nannies who remain in the family household are able to continue working as normal, respecting the social distancing rules with people outside the household and adhering to general safety measures such as washing hands, coughing and sneezing into tissues, avoiding touching their face etc.
7) Can I still furlough my nanny?
Families can still choose to furlough their nanny under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Before furloughing your nanny, this must be agreed upon by both parties. With the scheme, nannies can receive 80% of their salary or up to £2500 a month funded by the Government. Parent employers can choose to top this up to 100%. To be eligible, you must have:
- Registered your nanny on the PAYE payroll scheme on or before the 19th March 2020 and submitted HMRC their RTI (Real Time Information) on or before the 19th March 2020
- Have a UK bank account
The scheme is in place from the 1 March until the end of June, it can be extended by the Government depending on the economic impact of Coronavirus. Families that opt to furlough their nanny, must use the scheme for a minimum period of at least 3 weeks. Nannies will not be able to work for the family whilst furloughed, this includes online virtual nannying or tutoring.
8) My childcare provider is sick, do I need still need to pay them?
If your childminder is unable to work due to coronavirus, we suggest referring back to your contract and having an open discussion regarding their payment. Childminders are self-employed, so traditionally parents may not be obliged to pay them. However, given recent circumstances, this is something to be discussed with your childminder.
Childminders may be able to access ESA. This is payable from day one of their inability to work. Your childminder is eligible if:
- Themselves or their child may have contracted coronavirus
- They came in to contact with someone with Coronavirus and are now self-isolating
- The NHS has informed them that they are in the high-risk category
- Paid National Insurance contributions in the last 3 years.
Nannies enrolled in the PAYE payroll scheme are entitled to employment benefits including sickness pay. The contract between the parent and nanny should define how much they are to be paid if they are sick. This should be the statutory minimum pay.
Find out more information here on self-isolation should you or your childcare provider become unwell.
9) Does my childcare provider need to wear PPE?
Current Government advice suggests that childcare providers and children do not need to wear PPE.
The Government strongly suggests that good hygiene habits contribute to controlling the spread of the virus in the early year's settings and at home. We, therefore, recommend your childcare provider regularly washes their hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap, avoids touching their eyes and nose, and uses a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
10) How long will childcare coronavirus measures be in place?
The question on everyone’s minds is how long will this last? Unfortunately, the truth is, there is no definitive date when life will return to normal. The Government provides a daily briefing that highlights progress and any major changes across the UK. For now the biggest changes are:
1) At-home childcare providers (such as nannies) are able to come to work, following safety precautions
2) Childminders can take children from one household if they are not looking after vulnerable or key worker children already. Childminders may be able to take more children from the 1st June.
3) Nurseries may reopen the 1st of June.
We expect good hygiene practice and safety precautions to be insisted on for the foreseeable future.
11) Is it safe for my childcare provider to take my child outside?
Childcare providers are able to take children to outside spaces, such as parks. The Government, however, urges that outside excursions respect social distancing measures such as not meeting in groups of more than 2 and keeping a 2m distance from people where possible.
Recent changes mean you are now able to spend time outdoors doing activities such as sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing. You can meet one other person from a different household outdoors (at a 2m distance), and you are allowed outside more than once a day.
Your childcare provider should not be taking your child to potentially crowded areas and should avoid using public transport where possible. When leaving the house with your children, we recommend your childcare provider brings hand sanitiser and tissues. If your childcare provider is using public transport, updated advice suggests wearing a mask.
Playdates at other households and mixing with other households inside is still strictly discouraged.
Got a question we haven’t answered? Feel free to drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will guide you the right point of call. We will try to keep you updated as the situation changes, in the meantime, the Yoopies team hope you and your family are safe during this time.
To find childcare and online tutors, have a browse at childcare providers in your area! Check out our guide on how to conduct a background check on a caregiver here.