The government has issued new guidance for childminders in England, which means that some may be able to open from today (13 May).
The revised guidance from the Department for Education states that paid childcare can now be provided to children from just one other household, providing it is in line with guidelines around minimising the risk of infection.
The guidance also states that subject to conditions, childminders and all early years’ settings can open to more children from 1 June.
The chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), Liz Bayram, said the clarification makes clear childminders can ‘start to build up their businesses now in advance of fully opening on 1 June if they want to’.
‘There is still much to do in terms of supporting childminders as well as other providers to prepare their services for what is a new operating environment but we already have excellent practice to build on, thanks to the many childminders and other providers who have remained open to critical workers’ children and vulnerable children,’ she added.
‘We now look forward to supporting the DfE’s development of a toolkit that will support all providers to prepare to re-open in a way that minimises risk for the children and families in their care as well as their staff.’
But the chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, Neil Leitch criticised the last-minute nature of the new guidance.
‘Childminders have been told three different things about plans to re-open in a matter of days,’ said Mr Leitch.
‘To inform them that they are able to open for children from a single household with less than a day’s notice is simply not acceptable.
‘Given that childminders operate from their own homes, providing care during this period poses unique challenges for them and many will need support and guidance to feel able to do so safely. As such, it’s time that government stopped acting as though childminders are an afterthought, recognised that they are a fundamental part of the early years sector and started treating them as such.’
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