Employers For Childcare welcomes the extension of funding to support the childcare sector
Employers For Childcare welcomes the further extension of two Covid-19 childcare support funds, announced today (Friday 18 June) by Education Minister Michelle McIlveen. This includes:
- A Childcare Sustainability Fund for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 and
- A Childcare Covid-19 Temporary Closure Fund for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.
These will supplement the £30 million already allocated to the childcare sector, to support its re-opening, recovery and ongoing sustainability. Both schemes are being administered by Early Years – the organisation for young children, on behalf of the Department of Education.
Launching the funding, the Minister thanked the childcare sector for its continued dedication to maintaining services during these challenging times.
Childcare Sustainability Fund
The Covid-19 Childcare Sustainability Support Fund will support childcare providers with the continued additional costs of operating within Department of Health Covid-19 guidance and supporting their financial viability whilst operating with reduced demand for services. The Fund opens for applications on Friday 18 June 2021 and will close on Monday 16 August 2021 at 4pm.
Who is eligible?
Applications will be accepted from eligible day nursery and school-aged childcare settings, childminders, crèches and playgroups who are operational during the period 1 April to 30 June 2021. Providers must also be in full adherence to the latest Department of Health Covid-19 guidance.
Funding will be allocated to eligible providers based on the type and size of the provider.
Full eligibility details and funding amounts are available here.
How can childcare providers apply?
Applications can be made through a user-friendly online application system, and individual links will be issued by Family Support NI. Do not share your link with any other setting or provider, as this will result in a delay to the processing of your application.
Pro rata payments will be made according to the number of days providers were operational. If you are also making an application under the Covid-19 related Temporary Closure Fund for an eligible period of temporary closure, any payment made under the Sustainability scheme which corresponds to the Covid-19 closure period will be deducted.
The aim is for payments to be distributed within 10 working days of a fully completed application being submitted. However, if further clarification is required from the applicant, Family Support NI or the Trust, there may be a delay.
Any queries relating to this Fund can be submitted to the Childcare Support Fund Team at Early Years by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Covid-19 Related Temporary Closure Fund
This fund is designed to support providers who have to close temporarily – either fully or, in the case of a group setting, an entire pod – as a direct result of a Covid-19 incident within their setting or being unable to comply with staff: child ratios due to required periods of self-isolation.
Who is eligible?
The fund is open to registered childcare providers including childminders, daycare providers, school age childcare settings (SAC), crèches and playgroups who are operational during the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021. A condition of funding from the Temporary Closure funding will be that parents have not been charged during the temporary suspension of services.
Providers must also be in full adherence to the latest Department of Health Covid-19 guidance. Funding will be allocated to eligible providers based on the type and/or size of provision and the length of period of closure.
Full eligibility details are available here.
How can childcare providers apply?
If you have informed your Trust of a closure, you will receive a link to apply on Friday 18 June 2021. If you do not receive a link by then, please email email@example.com
Each application received will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and all applications must be submitted by Thursday 14 October 2021 at 4pm.
Any queries relating to this Fund can be submitted to the Childcare Support Fund Team at Early Years by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking ahead the need for a longer-term Childcare Strategy is greater than ever
Commenting on the funding, Aoife Hamilton, Head of Charity Services at Employers For Childcare said: “This latest package of funding will provide vital financial support for childcare providers who continue to face challenges around reduced demand, and increased costs as a result of operating within Covid-19 guidance. However, while we welcome this focus on recovery, it is important that we recognise that the entire sector needs support in the longer-term to move to a system that is sustainable for providers to deliver and affordable and accessible for parents.
“This is why we have written this week to the new Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to insist that childcare must be top of the agenda for the Executive – it is an essential part of our economic infrastructure and has a key role to play in helping parents move into work. We are already seeing many employers struggle to recruit the staff they need and without a high quality and affordable childcare system in place, we will be unable to rebuild a prosperous, productive economy. High-quality childcare is also key to supporting early education and child development.
“We need to see progress on a comprehensive, fully-costed Childcare Strategy which delivers for children, families, childcare providers and the economy – as per the commitment in ‘New Decade, New Approach’. With our last full Childcare Strategy having been published two decades ago, parents simply cannot afford to wait any longer and we look forward to working with Executive Ministers to achieve the changes that parents and childcare providers tell us are so urgently needed”.