Minister announces new measures to support childcare providers

Date published: 05 January 2021

New proposals have been announced today to provide financial assistance for Covid-19 related closures in the childcare sector between September and December last year.

Education Minister, Peter Weir outlined the plans following the allocation of a total of £3.64 million for childcare providers who have temporarily closed during the period 1 September to 31 December 2020.

Childcare providers located on schools estate who were unable to operate during the extended school mid-term break in October will also be eligible to apply for support under this scheme.

Peter Weir said: “It is important that registered childcare providers offer safe and nurturing environments for children and will not be disadvantaged by Covid-19 related issues that have caused them to close either fully or in the case of a setting, having to close a pod/group. As part of ongoing childcare recovery, the Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund will provide a financial contribution towards the loss of income as a result of the Covid-19 related closures and for those providers unable to operate due to school closures during the extended half-term break in October.  

“I also recognise that this is a financially difficult time for many parents, and therefore one of the objectives of this funding support is to ensure that childcare providers do not charge parents while their provision is temporarily closed due to Covid-19 cases.  This will be a condition of funding.

“It is essential that we continue to work together across the education and health sectors to ensure the availability of childcare provision and to support the economy, while at the same time ensuring parents can access safe and responsive care.

“I want to again thank registered childcare providers for the essential work they do. Their hard work on the ground and determination to maintain services at this critical time is vital in helping us deal with the ongoing challenges facing society as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

 

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund will help childcare providers, including childminders, who have re-opened following a Covid-19 temporary closure where (i) there has been a Covid positive case of either a member of staff, a childminder or a child in a setting which has resulted in the provider fully closing or in the case of a setting, a pod/group closing; or (ii) there is an inability of a setting to comply with staff:child ratios due to staff being required to self-isolate as advised by Public Health Agency. 
  2. These are emergency measures that will apply in accordance with the Executive’s overall decisions in response to COVID-19.
  3. The Department of Education will roll out these measures as quickly as possible. Early Years the organisation for young children will administer the scheme.
  4. Full details of the eligible providers and the available amounts, including the opportunity to apply for funding are available at:-
  1. Initially, eligible providers who have notified their Trust Early Years Teams of a positive case in their setting and those providers located on school premises will receive an invitation to apply.  The initial invitation will issue from Family Support NI.  Any queries should be addressed to the Early Years Organisation via the email address within each of the links above.    
  2. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at Press.Office@education-ni.gov.uk
  4. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

 

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