Latest COVID-19 restrictions: update (7 Jan 2021 at 10.00am)

Latest COVID-19 restrictions: update (7 Jan 2021 at 10.00am)
SCMA participated in a meeting of the national childcare sector Recovery Working Group yesterday and we can confirm that –

Operational basis of settings

The position regarding childminding which we shared on Tuesday is correct. There have been no changes for childminding arising from the First Minister’s emergency statement on 4 January 2021. The pre-Christmas, current, operating guidance applies for mainland Scotland (level 4) and the Islands (level 3). Childminding settings can continue to operate on the following basis:

the majority of childminding settings can continue to provide childcare to all families (with the exception of larger settings, as detailed below);

larger settings currently providing childcare to 12 or more children at this time must only provide childcare to children of key workers and vulnerable children (until 1 February);
blended placements are allowed to continue, in line with the operating guidance. It is, in particular, recognised that blended placements and wraparound care may be needed by key workers. 

Official confirmation of the above has been delayed due to the time of year and will be issued shortly via a Provider Update by the Care Inspectorate.

Operating Guidance & Safety

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the current Childminding Services Guidance remains in place and will support the safe operation of childminding settings for childminders, their own families and the families using them at this time. This is under constant clinical review for currency and to take into account new developments including the new variant of the virus. The guidance for levels 3 and 4 requires childminders to undertake additional risk assessments with regard to their own safety and those of clinically vulnerable children. Childminders requiring to shield should also have received a communication from the Chief Medical Officer regarding this which also acts as a Fit Note.

To be clear, there is no requirement for childminders to remain open. This is an individual business decision. Some of you may be keen to stay open, however SCMA recognises that some childminders may feel less certain or that they have to stay open to avoid letting down families or for financial reasons. We also recognise that some childminders are understandably worried about their own safety given the requirement for the wider public to stay at home at this time and to avoid mixing. 

The Scottish Government continues to consider childcare settings as “low risk”, based on scientific evidence and public health advice, and we understand the wider restrictions at a public level are of a precautionary nature aimed at reducing the risk of transmission of the virus within the wider community rather than any reflection on the safety within childcare settings. The Scottish Government will be communicating shortly with childcare providers and parents to reassure them of the safety in childcare settings at this time.    

Shortly before Christmas SCMA recorded a video update for members, the wider childminding community and families. This covered the latest (current) childminding operating guidance, why most childminding settings have been allowed to remain open to all families while nurseries and other larger settings have had to temporarily scale back to supporting key workers and vulnerable children (mainly due to the much smaller number of children in our settings) and aimed to answer your questions. This video remains current and can be accessed here on our COVID-19 FAQ page

It has been confirmed that childminders are themselves considered key workers; however we are aware of variations across some local authorities and we have fed this back to the Scottish Government and requested that they reinforce this message to local authorities. If you are having problems accessing key worker support for you own children, we would encourage you to explain your circumstances to your local authority to stress the implications.  

Please be assured that SCMA takes the safety of childminders, your own families and the families using your settings very seriously. This is why we believe that childminders, other childcare providers and teachers should be prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine given your leading role in supporting families within the national response to COVID-19 and we have urged the Scottish Government to do this. This is also why we will continue to contribute to the development of national operating guidance. We also recognise the severe financial pressures continuing to be experienced by many childminding businesses. SCMA will also continue to participate in national recovery discussions to represent the concerns and experiences of childminding and we continue to advocate for more financial support for childminding.

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