SCMA Action on Blended Care Restrictions

SCMA Action on Blended Care Restrictions
A recent survey from SCMA has highlighted that restrictions on providing ‘blended’ childcare by current Scottish Government COVID-19 operating guidance are having a devastating effect on childminding businesses in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s current public-health informed guidance confirms that blended care ‘should be avoided’ unless where absolutely necessary in support of key worker families, and that restrictions will continue during phase 3. While this is expected to be reviewed by the end of July, no clarity has been provided as to when or if these restrictions will be lifted.

SCMA members are extremely concerned about the impact of current restrictions on blended care which are causing significant problems for childminders and the families they support. We have received a number of reports from members who had already lost families from their settings due to current restrictions on blended care and our survey found that if these restrictions were to continue only 19% of childminding businesses believe they will still be viable in 12 months’ time.

We believe that these results present an opportunity for the Scottish Government to make a policy decision and act decisively by providing an advance commitment to removing all restrictions on blended care before the schools go back in August (if we continue to make progress in suppressing the virus).
SCMA has always worked very closely and constructively with the Scottish Government and others to contribute to national recovery planning and we have supported the cautious and considered approach adopted by the Scottish Government which has enabled us to suppress the virus.

In doing so we have all been led by the public health advice and none of us wish to risk the progress which has been made in suppressing the virus. However, in addition to considering the public health advice, as the risks reduce there is also an increasing need to take into account the economic and social impact of COVID-19 on families and childcare providers which is becoming more critical by the day.

The public health situation continues to evolve, schools will be returning full-time without restrictions on capacity in August and many sectors will be opening more widely over the summer and resulting in wider social mixing. As such, it would be difficult to see how restrictions on blended placements can be justified or maintained at that time.

Today (Wednesday 8 July) we have published a briefing paper, including the results of our survey. Read our Survey Results and Briefing Paper

We have written to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister, urging the Scottish Government to commit to working towards having removed all restrictions on blended care by the time the schools go back in August (subject to on-going progress in suppressing the virus). Read our letter to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister.

We believe such clarity of intent is desperately needed to provide confidence to childminders, other childcare providers and parents/carers, and to enable you all to plan ahead. We believe you deserve no less than such a commitment. We have also shared our briefing paper with all 129 MSPs in Scotland and with other stakeholders including the Scottish Government and Care Inspectorate.

How You Can Help
A number of members have asked if there is anything you can do to help influence this – and yes, there is. If you are concerned about these restrictions and the future viability of your business, you can make a difference by making your voice heard.

The more of us who make our voice heard, the greater the likelihood of our achieving change. We want you to send an email to your local MSP - or even directly to John Swinney MSP or our Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP - to highlight your individual situation.

This will also highlight the impact of the current blended care restrictions are having – and will continue to have on your financial sustainability, as well as the children and families that you support – if the restrictions on flexibility across settings continue.

We have developed a useful email template to help you write to your local MSP. Find the email address of your local MSP. For those who wish to write directly to the Scottish Government, the relevant Ministers’ offices can be contacted at:

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister:
Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People:

In addition, we would also encourage you to share this plea with the parents and families that you provide childcare for. The more voices that are heard, the more impact we will have, at getting our concerns heard.

Please ask parents to make their voices heard to - where they can explain how the lack of blended care will have on their freedom of choice, lack of flexibility and ability to return to work. 

We’d like to thank you for your on-going support of childminding in Scotland.