Financial support package announced for childcare providers
A range of financial support measures are being put in place by the Departments of Health and Education to ensure that key worker parents and vulnerable children can access the childcare they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures have also been designed to sustain those daycare providers who have had to close as a result of the pandemic, to support them to reopen in the future, and continue to provide their services which are a vital part of our economic infrastructure.
Financial support for childminders
Those who continue to provide childminding services during this time are having to work within the terms of some operating restrictions, including providing care only for the children of key workers, and vulnerable children, and not caring for the children of more than two families. This means childminders are likely to be able to care for a smaller number of children, which has an impact on their sustainability. As a result, for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to fees paid by parents, childminders who provide care to these children will be paid an additional sum of £125 per place filled per month, up to a maximum payment of £500 per childminder per month.
For those childminders who no longer provide services to key workers and vulnerable children, during this time, it is anticipated that they will avail of the UK Government support package for the self-employed, further details of which are available here. We recognise that this package of support may not assist all childminders, particularly those who entered the sector recently. Additionally, those who are eligible will have to wait until early June, at the earliest, to receive any income. Contact our Family Benefits Advice Service if you would like to find out more about other financial support you may be entitled to.
Financial support for daycare providers
Similar to childminders, those who continue to provide daycare services to key workers and vulnerable children at this time will be subject to operating restrictions, including reducing the number of children being cared for. This will mean some providers may only be able to provide care for 25% of their usual published capacity, which will impact on their economic viability. Depending on where providers are located, and the numbers of key workers and vulnerable children in their area, some providers will not be providing care to children in sufficient numbers and will have to close.
The Health and Social Care Trust Early Years Teams will work with those providers who are continuing to provide services at this time to help them to maximise capacity – some providers may be asked to reopen to meet the demand for childcare in their area. If any provider wishes to reopen, they should make contact with their local Early Years Team.
Those providers who can remain viably open or agree to reopen to meet demand in their area should continue to charge parents who use their services their normal fee. Subject to other financial receipts specific to childcare and to other financial relief measures available, daycare providers will also receive payments which:
- Meet their monthly costs in full (both core costs and staffing costs) less the fees collected from parents
- Provide a temporary uplift in the salaries of staff to 1.2 times their normal rate of pay.
Note that this will not apply to any member of staff who has been furloughed under the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme during the period for which they are furloughed.
Those providers who have closed are asked to support their key worker parents by engaging in the revised Approved Home Childcare Scheme.
It is intended that a specific childcare financial sustainability package will be made available for those providers who are not able to provide daycare services to key workers and vulnerable children, and have had to close – details are being finalised and will be made available soon. Many day care providers, who have closed, have told us of the challenges they are continuing to face, for example in terms of covering ongoing overheads such as rent payments, insurance and staff salary costs in advance of being able to claim these back through the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, so an update on the package of financial support available will be welcomed.
For advice and guidance on the support available to childcare providers, contact our Family Benefits Advice Service on Freephone 0800 028 3008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.