Purpose of this guidance
This guidance will be kept under review as we move through the different phases of recovery and the different levels of intervention, and:
- provides clarity of expectation with regard to childminding services across Scotland that recognises childminding as a home-based care and learning environment
- takes account of scientific and medical advice and provides clarity on practical approaches to safely operating a childminding setting, and
- provides enhanced practices during the COVID-19 period to support the prevention and control of infection covering.
Where this guidance states that childminders:
- “must” do something, there is an expectation that it is done without exception
- “should” do something, this is strongly advised, where appropriate
- “may” or “may wish” to do something, the relevant sections have been included as examples of relevant practice that can be considered if appropriate.
Nothing in this guidance affects the legal obligations of childminders with regard to health and safety and public health advice. Childminders must continue to adhere to all such duties when implementing this guidance. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, they must have regard to the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.
This guidance is not exhaustive and we expect childminders will continue to operate within the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and parents while they are using their service, including any impact on or from members of the childminders own household. Measures put in place within the setting to comply with this guidance must not contravene health and safety legislation, for example, not leaving fire doors open to increase ventilation.
This guidance should be read alongside:
- Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC and the framework document COVID-19: Scotland's Strategic Framework.
- Health Protection Scotland non-healthcare settings guidance: this contains information on health protection and infection prevention and control issues including cleaning, hygiene measures, what to do if someone falls ill, laundry considerations and waste management.
- Realising the ambition: Being Me - early years national practice guidance for Scotland.
- Setting the table: nutritional guidance and food standards for early years providers in Scotland.
- Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings (Daycare and Childminding Settings)
- NHS Inform – COVID-19: Shielding Guidelines
- Health and Social Care Standards
- Test and Protect Guidance
- individual risk assessments
- Shielding advice and support
Scope of this guidance
This guidance is for Care Inspectorate registered childminders. Nannies and au pairs can continue to provide childcare in accordance with the restrictions in the local authority they are operating within. They should follow the appropriate guidance on meeting indoors, and Parent Club contains additional explanation which may be useful.
Scotland’s Strategic Framework
As set out in the Strategic Framework, to best tackle the virus, and protect people, we moved to an approach based on five levels of protection. This allows for a rapid and proportionate responses to be taken – locally or nationally – using a transparent range of measures and options. It also allows us to avoid, where possible, a ‘one size fits all’ approach, where a part of the country with lower rates of infection lives with restrictions designed to suppress the virus in higher rate areas.
The Strategic Framework also reiterates that the unique impacts of the pandemic on children and young people, coupled with the necessity to ensure it does not prevent them receiving the best start in life, mean we must prioritise keeping schools and regulated childcare safe, open and welcoming, where it is safe to do so. It is recognised that, to enable this to happen, other mitigations may need to be put in place in individual settings as well as in wider society.
The protective measures set out in this guidance represent the ‘core’ or standard protective measures that should be in place in all settings across all five protection levels. These measures have been augmented in line with scientific and public health advice in the current context of rising prevalence levels. Implementation and adherence to these measures is essential to ensuring the ongoing safety of children and young people, as well as the staff who have worked hard to keep settings open.
These standard protective measures represent the full suite of measures required at levels 0-2 of the Strategic Framework. Additional, specific mitigations should be put in place to provide enhanced protection where services are located in areas designated at protection levels 3 and 4 of the Strategic Framework. These enhanced protective measures aim to tackle specific areas of higher potential risk as prevalence increases, including for those people most clinically at risk. These measures will be in addition to any specific risk mitigation measures which have been identified through individual risk assessment and risk assessment review processes.
In addition to the implementation of these mitigations, at any protection level, childminding settings may be asked to respond to local issues, and specifically to local outbreaks. The measures put in place in wider society at different levels of the Strategic Framework have been designed to reduce community transmission sufficiently to allow schools and regulated childcare settings to remain open safely. However, there may be circumstances in which, based on clear evidence and public health considerations, specific settings require either to close, or to implement additional restrictions, for a defined period of time. All such decisions will be made in line with the independent advice of local Directors of Public Health, who will take account of wider public health considerations according to their statutory duties.
On a regular basis, and particularly where there is a move between levels, childminding settings should review their implementation of this guidance, and ensure compliance with core and additional public health measures.
Enhanced and targeted protection in Levels 3 & 4
In addition to the suite of protective measure outlined throughout the core guidance, the following, enhanced protective measures should also be applied for childminding settings within a local area that has been designated as at Protection Level 3 or 4.
These measures have been designed to enhance protections in areas where evidence suggests there may be higher potential risks as prevalence increases, including for those people who are at the highest clinical risk.
It is important to note that these measures are in addition to, not instead of, the protective measures set out in the main guidance.
Protection Level 3 – Enhanced protective measures
- parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children with the highest clinical risk should still attend
- the majority of workplaces can be made safer for staff. To ensure this remains the case, employers should ensure that individualised risk assessments for setting staff members with the highest clinical risk are in place and updated appropriately, and staff should speak to their employer to ensure all appropriate protections are in place
- decisions on appropriate protections should be informed by individual risk assessments, and may include protective measures in the workplace, mitigations such as working remotely (e.g. at home or in different settings), or carrying out different tasks within their usual workplace. If protections cannot be put in place, they can discuss whether they need a fit note with their GP or clinician
Protection Level 4 - enhanced and targeted protective measures
- children on the shielding list have been advised by the Chief Medical Officer not to attend regulated childcare services such as nurseries in person in level 4 areas or during lockdown. However, parents can consult with their child’s secondary care (hospital) clinical team who may advise that an individualised risk assessment could be undertaken with the nursery and arrangements put in place which may allow their child to attend when settings re-open
- if the area where someone on the shielding list is living or working in goes back down to level 4, they are advised to continue to follow the advice about going to work in level 4 areas, regardless of whether they have had 1 or 2 doses of the vaccination.
- childminding settings should be prepared to engage with enhanced testing responses to COVID-19 outbreaks, where recommended by the Incident Management Team. This may include more testing of people who do not have symptoms or of close contacts to support outbreak management, and address areas where we are concerned about transmission
Childminding settings in any level may be asked to implement additional public health measures that may affect capacity. The measures put in place in wider society at different levels of the Strategic Framework have been designed to reduce community transmission sufficiently to allow settings to continue to operate. However, there may be circumstances in which, based on clear evidence and public health considerations, additional measures will be required. All such decisions will be made in line with the independent advice of local Directors of Public Health