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:
- The Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC
- 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.
Routine asymptomatic testing
Reflecting the lower risk in small settings with fewer opportunities for adult to adult transmission, childminders have not to date been included in the offer of access to asymptomatic testing. In the light of the creation of an at home testing offer for nurseries and other larger settings we are reviewing the testing offer in place.
Recognising the importance of reassurance to the sector, and to the families you work with, we are considering at pace the potential to offer access to a form of asymptomatic testing to childminders. More information about this offer will be made available as soon as possible.
It should be recognised that childminders and assistants may find it valuable to access support for their mental health and wellbeing, in the lead-up to settings reopening and once they do reopen. Many will be balancing the return to 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 are working 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
As settings re-open, 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, at this time of transition, 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.