The decision to require the closure of childcare settings – other than for the provision of critical childcare for key worker families and vulnerable children - has had an impact on the lives of children and families throughout Scotland. There was little time to prepare, or scope to explain, the changes to our youngest children. Their relationships and friendships were abruptly interrupted as well as their learning.
We know there will be challenges in returning to services after a turbulent break. In line with Realising the Ambition, our focus must be on supporting younger children when they are in settings for Early Learning and Childcare provision, to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base which will stand them in good stead as they grow and develop. Nurturing and attached relationships are essential to creating the conditions for children to flourish in early learning and childcare.
All children have a right to play, to learn and to access experiences that meet their physical, social, emotional and cultural needs, and they have a right to associate with their peers. In line with Scotland's commitment to Getting It Right For Every Child, children also have the right to the best possible health, with their best interests a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect them. Adults, of course, also have fundamental rights in relation to their health and wellbeing. These important rights and considerations have all been factored into the development of a framework for reopening and delivering ELC and school-aged childcare services.
The coronavirus continues to be suppressed to a low level in Scotland. In addition, we now know that children are less likely to be affected by the virus. Advice from the advisory sub group for education and children’s issues states:
- children in the age groups accessing early learning and childcare have a low susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, they also have a low likelihood of onward transmission
We are therefore able to reduce some of the restrictions on the operations of childminders laid out in previous guidance. However, we cannot yet return to normal practice – we all need to ensure that we continue to manage services and mitigate risks.
This guidance provides principles to help you make decisions based on the best available evidence to help you operate in a changed context. Please be aware however, that public health advice may evolve over time and you should check online to make sure you are working to the most recent version of this guidance.
On 10 July Scotland entered Phase 3 of the route map for recovery from COVID-19. As part of Phase 3, restrictions on childminders changed compared to those introduced during Phase 1 (see archive for previous guidance). This guidance of 30 July makes further changes.
- from 15 July 2020, 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. The maximum number of children to be cared for at any one time must be no more than those detailed on the certificate of registration and includes children of the childminder’s own family
- childminders can use their discretion to allocate places to families, based on their usual operating model
- childminders operating larger settings of more than eight children at any one time, are no longer required to keep children in cohorts of up to eight, but should follow the guidance for large settings below
- there is no longer a requirement to avoid blended placements (i.e. where children attend 2 or more childcare settings). However, minimising contacts remains important to managing the risk of transmission of the virus
- childminders must continue to follow public health advice. A risk assessment must be carried out before reopening, giving consideration to this guidance
- to reduce indirect transmission, enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures must remain in place
- physical distancing will not be expected between children, but measures must be put into place to limit additional parents or carers entering the childminding setting and to maintain physical distancing when adults may interact, for example at pick up and drop off times, or if the childminder employs an assistant that is not a member of their household