Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance

Published: 30 Jul 2020
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Non-statutory guidance to support childminding settings to operate safely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance
Operating conditions

Operating conditions

Childminders must operate within the parameters of the maximum registered numbers as detailed on their Care Inspectorate certificate of registration. These numbers include children of their own household or relatives.

Childminders who wish to deliver their service can do so in line with their usual operating model. There is no restriction to the number of households that childminders can care for.

There is no longer a requirement for large childminder settings to establish cohorts of up to 8 children. Large settings should follow the guidance below.

Childminders must ensure they are adhering to the latest guidance for operation during the pandemic, including any updates to this guidance.

Before you re-open or adapt your service

Childminders and any assistants if employed in the setting (including those that are a member of the childminder’s household) must make themselves familiar with COVID-19 advice available from Health Protection Scotland.  It is important that the most up to date guidance is used - always ensure you are using the most up to date version of this guide. Always access guidance online wherever possible and check regularly for any updated advice.

Childminders and assistants must be aware of Test and Protect arrangements. If a childminder, assistant, or a member of their household have symptoms, they must contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or Childminders must notify the Care Inspectorate of any confirmed or suspected outbreak of an infectious disease via Care Inspectorate eForms.

Childminders must risk assess their settings. The assessment should directly address risks associated with coronavirus, so that sensible measures can be put in place to control those risks for everyone. Communicate your plans to parents or carers and any assistants.

Childminders should also ensure that they are familiar with the advice for COVID-19 infected households, the Health Protection Scotland COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings and the COVID-19 advice from the Health and Safety Executive.

All risk assessments should be reviewed regularly and as circumstances change. Settings should ensure that they implement pragmatic and proportionate control measures which reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practical level.  They should have active arrangements in place to monitor that the controls are:

  • effective;
  • working as planned; and
  • updated appropriately considering any issues identified and changes in public health advice.

Any assistants employed by the childminder should be consulted in the development of risk assessments. Plans and risk assessments should be communicated to parents and all staff. This must include adults who are employed by the childminder but do not provide direct care to children such as cleaning staff. Support staff have a key role to play in reducing the risk from COVID-19 and it is important that they understand and follow the changes to procedures required to reduce the risk of the spread of infection.

Update service status – before you re-open your service

Childminders who have been closed, but now plan to re-open their service, must advise the Care Inspectorate of this.

To do this they must complete a “Changes to Service Delivery due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” notification. This is a new notification that services must use to inform the Care Inspectorate about changes to how they operate that are specifically related to COVID-19. This is only available through Care Inspectorate eForms. If you do not update your status, the Care Inspectorate will consider your service as closed.

Who may be in the childminder setting

Who childcare can be provided to;

From Phase 3, childminders who wish to deliver their service can do so in line with their usual operating model, operating within the maximum number of children that can be cared for as detailed on their certificate of registration.

Childminders can use their discretion to allocate places to families, based on their usual operating model. Childminders who have contracts in place with a local authority to deliver childcare on behalf of the authority, for example to deliver funded early learning and childcare (ELC), will need to agree these placements with the local authority before they are agreed with parents or carers.

Individual children’s circumstances must be taken into account when allocating spaces, including their health status. Educational providers, local authorities, social workers, parents or carers, and other relevant professionals (where applicable), should work together closely to consider factors, such as the balance of risk, including health vulnerabilities, family circumstances, risks outside the home, and the child or young person’s assessed special educational needs.

Support for Minority Ethnic children, young people and adults

There is some wider evidence that children, young people and adults from a Minority Ethnic background who are infected with COVID-19 seem to be at higher risk of severe disease.  The recent report by the National Records of Scotland on the breakdown of COVID-19 deaths in Scotland by ethnic group, concluded that over the course of the pandemic to date, COVID-19 was a relatively more common cause of death for people in the South Asian ethnic group compared to people in the white ethnic group.  Work is ongoing to build upon these data and to improve understanding.  The Scottish Government continues to work with experts from a range of fields, including our new Ethnicity Expert Reference Group, to develop actions to help mitigate any disproportionate effects. 

The concerns within Minority Ethnic communities must be recognised and individual requests for additional protections should be supported wherever possible.  Responding to requests for additional protections should be based on individual risk assessments. Childminders should refer to Scottish Government guidance on individual risk assessment for the workplace. Childminders should have sensitive, supportive conversations with all Minority Ethnic staff, which also consider their health, safety and psychological wellbeing and personal views and concerns about risk.  Childminders from a Minority Ethnic background will want to take account of these concerns for their own wellbeing in deciding whether and how to reopen their service.

Employers should be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010 at all times. All ME staff from South Asian backgrounds with underlying health conditions and disabilities, who are over 55, or who are pregnant, should be individually risk assessed, and appropriate reasonable adjustments should be made following risk assessment

Children and staff who are clinically vulnerable

Clinically vulnerable staff can return to work, following a dynamic risk assessment, and arrangements should be made to enable appropriate physical distancing staying 2 metres away from other adults wherever possible, in line with current advice on the return to childminding. If they have to spend time within 2 metres of other adults, settings must carefully assess and agree with them whether this involves an acceptable level of risk.

Children, and staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding)

The trajectory of the virus has been such that shielding will be paused from 1 August. We expect children and staff who are shielding will be able to return to childcare in August, unless given advice from a GP or healthcare provider not to, and can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland. People in this group should refer to the latest advice on the need to shield. This guidance will continue be updated if there are a high number of local cases or there is a need to resume shielding.

Guidance for people with underlying health conditions has been prepared and will continue to be updated (see Childminders and assistants who have underlying health conditions will wish to be aware of this advice in order to inform discussions with their employer and/or their healthcare team.  Similarly, parents and carers may wish to have a discussion with their child’s healthcare team if they are unsure or have queries about returning to settings because of their health condition.

Local monitoring arrangements will be in place to give early warning of any local increase in infections in the future which could lead to people in the higher risk categories being advised to stay away from setting again for their safety.

Support for children with Additional Support Needs

Every child will have different levels of required support. It will be important as part of the risk assessments carried out to consider the individual needs of a child or young person. Where there is a need to work in close proximity with adults and children people the appropriate safety measures should be put in place based on that risk assessment.

Reviewing the guidance

The restrictions will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, depending on the public health advice.

Blended placements

This relates to children attending more than one ELC setting (i.e. nursery and a childminder) and also to where childminders are involved in the provision of out of school care.

It remains important to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, where possible. However, the balance of scientific advice supports the use of more settings where required to ensure high quality childcare is available to children and in support of parents’ needs.

Parents and carers should be encouraged and supported to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally attending one setting only.  For children who attend more than one setting (i.e. nursery and childminder), consideration should be given to ensuring their child only attends the same setting(s) consistently. For children who attend multiple settings consideration should be given to how they are supported to ensure good hygiene practices (washing hands, not sharing resources, etc.) when moving between settings, and how their interactions with other groups of children are managed, based on an appropriate risk assessment.

Childminders and other key workers may undertake drop-off and pick-up from other ELC settings and schools, but social distancing with other adults must be maintained.

Where a child attends more than one setting, consideration should be given to record keeping of the other setting(s), to assist with any Test & Protect process (see below section on Test & Protect). Any records should be GDPR compliant.

This position is based on the latest public health advice, and will continue to be reviewed.

First published: 30 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -