Update: Northern Ireland Covid-19 Childcare Support scheme

The Department of Health has today written to registered childcare providers in Northern Ireland with an update on emergency childcare support measures.

In early April, Education Minister, Peter Weir and Health Minister, Robin Swann outlined a £12m package of measures which is being developed for emergency childcare provision.

The letter issued today outlines the process for accessing support available to enable a number of registered daycare settings, school age childcare settings and childminders to remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. The letter also explains what support is available for settings which remain closed and are unable to re-open, with the intention of helping to support the sustainability of the sector.

Childcare providers and childminders who are eligible for financial assistance under the childcare provision scheme will receive an application form early next week (week commencing Monday 4 May). Guidelines to assist with the completion of application forms will also be issued along with application forms and support will be available from the membership support bodies. Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service will address any queries specific to the new Bespoke Approved Home Childcare Scheme.

The Department expects that there will be a high number of applications and states that its aim is to process applications as quickly as possible. It is important to note that endorsement by your Early Years Team in the relevant Health and Social Care Trust will be necessary in order to apply for assistance under the open settings element of these schemes, and the Early Years Teams will take account of demand when determining whether to endorse the re-opening of a setting.

In its statement, the Department notes that childcare provision will be made available where it is essential to enable keyworkers to go to work or to provide support to children who are vulnerable. However, where it is possible to do so, children should be cared for in their own homes. Childcare settings should only be providing care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children as per the Department of Health definition, available on the Family Support NI website.

You can read the full statement on the Department of Health website.

To contact Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service in relation to the Approved Home Childcarer scheme, or for any other queries relating to childcare or financial support,  call 028 9267 8200 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org