Confidence and safety
Our priority is the safety of all childminders, assistants, children and families.
Our collective responsibility is to enable all childcare professionals, including childminders and their assistants, to feel confident about operating in their workplace. They should have read:
- COVID-19: a framework for decision making
- Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues
Childminders should communicate with any assistants to ensure that they are clear and confident with the measures and processes recommended within the guidance on operating within a childminding setting. There must be clearly defined training sessions for any assistants on the risk mitigations set out in this guidance, and childminders will want to assure themselves that they understand this guidance and how it applies to them.
As there is some evidence which suggests that COVID-19 may impact disproportionately on some groups (ethnic minority communities), childminders should ensure that they provide practical support and advice to ethnic minority staff, particularly where they are anxious about protecting themselves and their families. Employers should be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010 at all times. All ethnic minority staff with underlying health conditions and disabilities, who are over 70, or who are pregnant should be individually risk assessed, and appropriate reasonable or workplace adjustments should be made following risk assessment.
COVID-19 checklist for the early learning and childcare sector
We have published a checklist that summarises the COVID risk mitigations for all childcare settings. This is now available as a supporting document to the ELC guidance. This should not be used as a substitute for reading the full guidance to understand the measures that they should implement in service planning.
Routine asymptomatic testing
The Scottish Government has made available routine asymptomatic at home testing using lateral flow devices (LFD), to everyone in Scotland. This does not replace the existing procedures for testing of those who have symptoms of COVID-19. We have published further information on rapid testing for everyone.
Alongside the safety measures and mitigations you are putting in place within your settings, this asymptomatic testing access can provide you with reassurance when you need it.
All participants are encouraged to report their results through the gov.uk digital portal – whether the result is positive, negative or void. This enables us to monitor effectiveness of the programme and understand the level of demand for this kind of testing offer.
Confirmatory PCR tests are no longer required following positive LFD tests unless advised by a clinician, or unless the parent/guardian or carer is planning on applying for the Self-Isolation Support Grant, in which case a confirmatory positive PCR is required. Childminders should follow the appropriate self-isolation and testing procedures set out in NHS Inform following a positive LFD test.
It is important to remember that asymptomatic testing does not replace the safety measures and mitigations that you have put in place within your settings. We must all remain vigilant in continuing to follow all appropriate measures to ensure settings remain low risk environments.
Childminders and assistants who have not been fully vaccinated are encouraged to seek vaccination, including the booster, as soon as possible, following the recommended gap between doses. Information on securing an appointment can be found via NHS Inform.
It should be recognised that childminders and assistants may find it valuable to access support for their mental health and wellbeing. Many will be balancing work with managing their own childcare needs and caring commitments linked to the COVID‑19 pandemic, including possible illness and bereavement within their own families.
We worked with partners from across the childcare sector to develop a directory of existing mental health, wellbeing and professional learning support for early learning and childcare, and out of school care, practitioners and childminders. This is updated and shared across the education and childcare sector at regular intervals.
We have worked with Early Years Scotland to launch a Team ELC Wellbeing Hub to support childcare professionals. Through this platform, childcare professionals can connect with one another, attend online events and access wellbeing resources.
Wellbeing, nurture and children’s rights
Childminders and assistants will be aware that the pandemic will have had a unique impact on each child and their family, as well as themselves and their colleagues at work. It is important that staff are mindful of keeping the child at the centre of their practice to ensure quality and wellbeing, while balancing safety and risk.
Children have the right to play and learn, as set out in Article 31(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life.
In Scotland, the Government has enshrined children’s right to play outdoors every day in its national Health and Social Care Standards – “As a child, I play outdoors every day and regularly explore a natural environment” (HSCS 1.32).
It is essential that childhood practice continues to be informed by the principles which underpin high quality provision. While aspects of practice may be delivered differently, childminders and assistants will still be working to meet the needs of children and their families. Practice that reflects the principles of nurture, and the importance of relationships is key to this. Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) with its focus on wellbeing, recognises that children and young people have the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to grow and develop and to have their voices heard. Working in partnership with parents is essential, with two way sharing of information being fundamental to this. The GIRFEC approach is about responding in a meaningful, supportive way which puts the wellbeing of children and families at the heart of any support.
Childminders need to be confident that they are providing experiences and sensitive interactions in a variety of outdoor and indoor spaces, in ways which best support the needs of children within the context of the recovery period.
COVID-19 safety eLearning module
We have developed a COVID-19 safety eLearning module to help staff understand some key aspects of this guidance document. We encourage settings to support their staff to complete this module as part of their working day.
It remains important that registered childcare settings ensure their staff are familiar with all the measures within the appropriate COVID-19 safety guidance for their setting. This module is not intended as a substitute for settings being familiar with that guidance.