Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance

Published: 5 Mar 2021
Last updated: 13 Sep 2021 - 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 and use of smaller groups to minimise contact between children.

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

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 Public Health 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 self-isolate straight away and contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or www.nhsinform.scot. Childminders must notify the Care Inspectorate of any confirmed or suspected outbreak of an infectious disease via Care Inspectorate eForms.

Risk assessment

Childminders must risk assess their settings. All risk assessments should be reviewed regularly and as circumstances change. For services that have been closed over holiday periods or other temporary closure, risk assessments must be reviewed prior to the re-opening.

To help with setting-level risk assessments, HSE has an example COVID-19 risk assessment which provides a general framework for all business sectors. Guidance on how to undertake individual level risk assessment for any assistants or a childminder themselves is available in guidance produced by the Scottish Government.

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
  • updated appropriately considering any issues identified and changes in public health advice

Plans and risk assessments should be communicated to parents and must be shared with any assistants or other adults attending the setting. The assessment should directly address risks associated with coronavirus, so that sensible measures can be put in place to control those risks for everyone.

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.

Any assistants employed by the childminder should be consulted in the development and updating of risk assessments. Plans and risk assessments should be communicated to parents and must be shared with any assistants. 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. The Care Inspectorate will check staff understanding of the risk assessment and mitigations as part of any scrutiny work they carry out.

This dialogue should identify what measures are working, where refinements are possible and identify any remaining gaps. Reviews of measures and risks should be frequent. Mitigation measures should be implemented as soon as the need for them is are identified and assessment of compliance should be undertaken on a daily basis.

Childminders should consult extensively with any assistants they may have to ensure that they are clear and confident in implementing the required public health measures and processes.

Attendees within a childminder setting

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): individual risk assessment guidance

On 27 July 2020 Scottish Government published COVID-19 occupational risk assessment guidance. This guidance includes an easy to use, individual risk assessment tool that takes into account ethnicity, age, gender, BMI and health conditions to give an overall COVID-19 risk age.

Staff and employers in all sectors now use this guidance to determine whether or not, the workplace is safe and it is safe for the individual to be at work. This guidance is relevant to those who have an underlying health condition, or are anxious about risks in the workplace. The guidance is based on the latest clinical and scientific advice on COVID-19 and is updated on a regular basis.

The clarity this tool brings has been widely welcomed, as we now know that certain minority ethnic groups are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and that simply viewing medical conditions in isolation, does not accurately predict an individual’s vulnerability.

The most important part of the process is the conversation that takes places between a manager and a member of staff. It is essential that the outcome from these conversations is agreed by both parties. The conversation should take into consideration, workplace risks, and the control measures that can be put into place, to agree a course of action regarding work duties. The guidance also signposts to further medical advice and support for those with complex vulnerabilities.

In line with the UK Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees, which applies in Scotland, pregnant staff of any gestation should only continue working if a risk assessment advises that it is safe to do so. 

People on the highest risk list (previously those on the shielding list)

This guidance applies to those who are at the highest clinical risk from coronavirus. Information on who is considered to be at highest risk. We have published advice on who is considered to be at highest risk, along with advice and support for this group, including attending work and education and childcare settings. Everyone in this cohort will have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising them that they are on the shielding list or are on the highest risk list.

The Chief Medical Officer wrote to everyone on this list in relation to the move to Level 0. His advice is that people at highest risk can now follow the same advice as the rest of the population in the context of our cautious approach to easing restrictions. This is because the vaccination programme is working well and as the number of people who have been vaccinated rises, everyone will benefit from greater protection, even the small number of people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Evidence continues to emerge about how well the vaccine works for people who are at highest risk.

Over 93% of people at highest risk have now received both doses of the vaccine and nearly 96% have received their first dose. Due to some health conditions, some people cannot receive the vaccine. If anyone is not sure, we would advise that they speak with their clinician. Otherwise, we encourage anyone on the highest risk list and their family members who haven’t had the vaccine to do so as soon as possible.

The Chief Medical Officer’s advice to everyone on the list, at level 0 and beyond level 0, is that it is currently safe to go into work if you cannot work from home and that it is safe to use public transport. 

It is essential that everyone continues to follow the public health advice and remaining restrictions. Baseline measures are strongly encouraged for staff and pupils at highest risk. Mitigations which remain in place for now such as face coverings are not just to give added protection to the population as a whole, but also to give protection and assurance to those at highest clinical risk. It is important to protect each other through getting the vaccination, getting tested, and to keep following the remaining rules and measures.

It continues to be the employer’s responsibility to regularly carry out workplace risk assessments and put in place measures to make the workplace as safe as is reasonably practicable to try and minimise the risk to staff including contracting COVID-19. In carrying out risk assessments, employers should be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010 at all times Employees also have a responsibility to comply with safe working practices

It is essential that employers conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment which will help them to identity measures which can be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. Employers can be asked for copies of the risk assessments for the workplace.

It is advised that those who are at highest risk also carry out an individual risk assessment. This includes a COVID-Age tool, which employees can use to highlight personal risk and support discussions with employers about any additional adjustments or arrangements that may be needed to make the workplace and duties safe for them. Find advice about individual risk assessments on gov.scot.

Any concerns can be discussed with managers or employers. Further advice is also available from:

  • occupational health services provided by your employer, where available
  • a health and safety representative in your workplace
  • your workplace’s Human Resources (HR) department
  • your trade union or professional body
  • the Citizens Advice website or the free Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 1456, (Monday to Friday, office hours)
  • the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

We have published guidance for employers and employees on making the workplace safe for people at highest risk. This includes employer responsibilities to carry out regular workplace risk assessments, individual risk assessments, and additional steps people can take to keep themselves safe. 

Children and young people on the highest risk list

The Chief Medical Officer’s advice at level 0 and beyond level 0, is that children and young people on the highest risk list can follow the same advice as for the rest of the population. This includes attending education and childcare.

Household members of people who are on the highest risk list

Children and young people who live with a person who is at highest risk can attend education and childcare settings. All children attending ELC should comply with the arrangements for the reduction of risks of transmission of the virus within settings, including hand hygiene. 

Household and family members of people at highest risk can also go to work. It is the employers’ responsibility to make sure the workplace and duties are as safe as possible. Household members of people that are at highest risk should discuss their concerns with their employer.

The Chief Medical Officer has encouraged everyone on the highest risk list to ask members of their household over 12 years of age to use the free at-home lateral flow tests. We encourage all staff in ELC and childcare settings who live with someone at highest risk to use the offer of lateral flow testing as this will help to find people who don’t have symptoms and would not know they have coronavirus. This can then reduce the risk of passing on coronavirus to a family or household member who is at highest risk.

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. Guidance on supporting children and young people with additional support needs is published by the Scottish Government. 

Blended placements

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

It remains very important to continue to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, and to maintain progress in suppressing the virus.

Guidance on belnded placement is specific to the protection level in which the setting is located.

Table one: blended placements

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

All blended placements can go ahead.

 

 

 

The risk of transmission is lower where group size is smaller and lower where provision is outdoors. For this reason, blended placements need not be restricted when they involve a fully outdoor setting, provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings. They also need not be restricted when they involve indoor settings – if one of the settings is caring for fewer than 12 children, provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings.

With the exceptions set out above, other blended placements are permitted only where they ensure access to high quality childcare and meet childcare need.

The risk of transmission is lower outdoors and so blended placements need not be restricted when they involve a fully outdoor setting, provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings.

With the exception set out above children should ideally attend one setting only but blended placements are permitted to ensure access to high quality childcare and to meet childcare need.

 

 

The use of blended placements should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Blended placement must be supported by a refreshed risk assessment that has been undertaken in collaboration with parents and all providers involved in the care of the child.

If there is an outbreak within the child’s cohort arrangement in either of the settings that the child attends, blended placements should, where possible, be suspended until after the outbreak. A cluster or outbreak of COVID-19 occurs when a school has two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days. The local health protection team should be notified. If a plausible transmission link between two or more cases is identified within the school setting, this is indicative of an ‘outbreak’; if not, it is referred to as a ‘cluster’. The outbreak will be ‘closed’ by the local health protection team

The decision about whether to suspend the blended placement and which one setting the child should attend while the blended placement is suspended should be made in discussion with the family and the settings involved.

Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as possible but no more than 7 days

When it is judged that a child should attend multiple settings, either ELC settings or childminders, 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, schools, and other organised activities such as sports clubs in line with the guidance for those activities. Physical distancing with other adults must be maintained.

Where a child attends more than one setting, consideration should be given to sharing of record keeping across settings, to assist with any Test & Protect process. Any records should be managed in way which is consistent with the requirements of GDPR and setting privacy policies.

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

Health and safety measures

These are practical measures to minimise the risk of infection and transmission in childminding settings.

Childminders should also ensure that they are familiar with:

Hand hygiene

Childminders should implement arrangements for enhanced hand and respiratory hygiene by adults and children in the childminding setting. Where possible, disposable paper towels or kitchen roll should be used. Where this is not practical, individual towels must be available for each child, and these must be laundered each day. There are a range of resources available from the NHS to encourage children with hand washing.

There is also a video to demonstrate the correct way to wash your hands from NES, the education and training body for NHS Scotland.

Hand gel is not recommended for children when soap and water is available. A Health Protection Scotland 2018 SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) on hygiene requirements in outdoor nurseries in Scotland states that the use of alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) and non-ABHRs should be discouraged in children under the age of five.

During this period childminders may wish to have a supply of hand gel available at the entrance to their home for themselves and for older children and parents or carers, assistants, and any other adults in the setting.

Avoid using personal items (e.g. mobile phone) of people that have a respiratory illness wherever possible. Cover the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose. Dispose of all used tissues promptly into a waste bin and empty this regularly. If you don’t have any tissues available, cough and sneeze into the crook of the elbow. Wash hands at the first opportunity.

Other things to consider to enhance hand and respiratory hygiene practices in the childminder setting are:

  • ensure all adults and children wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently
  •  In particular, handwashing should take place:
    • on arrival at the setting
    • before and after eating
    • after toileting
    • at regular intervals throughout the day
    • after outdoor play
    • after using a tissue or blowing their nose
  • ensure that handwashing is accessible for children, for example by providing footstools next to the sink
  • children should not share water in a communal bowl when washing hands
  • ensure that children dry hands thoroughly
  • if children have trouble washing their hands properly, childminders should assist
  • supervise children if there is any doubt that they are able to wash their hands properly
  • encourage children (depending on their ability to understand) not to touch their face, to use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze, and to use bins for tissue waste and empty these regularly.

First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 13 Sep 2021 -