Easing of restrictions on childcare providers in Northern Ireland
The Department of Health has confirmed in guidance published today (31 July 2020) that, as of Saturday 1 August, the following restrictions on childcare providers are being lifted:
Full daycare and School Age Childcare settings
The requirement in group settings to have pods of no more than 12 children is being lifted and providers can now revert to their pre-COVID19 Certificate of Registration in relation to the number of children they can provide care for. However, it is intended to retain the fundamental aim of the concept of a Pod, that is, keeping children and adults in consistent groups and to, as far as possible, prevent the mixing of groups in each setting.
The requirement that childminders can provide care to children from no more than four families at any one time is being lifted, though the existing Minimum Standards limits on numbers of children will continue to apply.
This means that, from 1 August, childminders can provide childcare for up to 6 children at any one time (8 if employing an assistant), in line with the Minimum Standards for Childminding and Day Care, without being restricted to children from no more than four families.
This development will assist childcare providers in building their capacity, and support parents in accessing the childcare they need.
There will still, however, be significant infection control guidance in place which must be adhered to by all childcare providers, and providers will have to go through the re-opening process with their Health and Social Care Trust.
All relevant guidance is available on the Family Support NI website.
Childcare providers should also be familiar with the Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Childcare Settings produced by the Child Care Partnership available on www.childcarepartnerships.hscni.net, guidance on shielding and protecting vulnerable persons and any up to date guidance from the Public Health Agency.