Latest Information from the District Lead for Early Years
Updates for the Sector:
Change made: added those whose work is critical to EU Transition to the list of critical workers.
If you need to self-isolate or cannot attend work due to coronavirus 31 December 2020
Guidance for employers and workers on work absences due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Change made: First published.
Childcare providers: telling Ofsted about significant events First Published:4 January 2021
From the end of January 2021, childminders, nurseries and all other childcare providers must use an online notification form to inform Ofsted of significant events.
Change made: Information about if your employee is unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.
If your employee’s health has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other conditions
Your employee is eligible for the grant and can be furloughed, if they are unable to work, including from home or working reduced hours because they:
· are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance
· have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household.
Change made: Updated to reflect 4 January announcement of national lockdown for all England.
Please also note that Out of School guidance had been updated on 31 December; however the national lockdown has superseded this information.
Updates for Families:
Information for all women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding on coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination. Change made: Added more information about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Nationallockdown: StayatHome 6 January 2021
Change made: Updated Guidance.
Guidance around childcare states:
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:
· Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open
· Childminders should continue to allow children to attend as normal except for school-aged children. Childminders caring for school-aged children (including reception children) should only admit vulnerable children and children of critical workers
· Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders, and other childcare activities (including wraparound care)
· parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
· Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
· Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
Other Relevant Updates and Information:
Symptom-free COVID-19 testing for Key Workers and their Families
Kent County Council has launched a symptom-free testing scheme for key workers and their families across the County from 4 January 2021. The test uses a lateral flow device and can detect in 30 minutes whether an individual has the COVID-19 virus. Any key worker and members of their family can book a test. Further test centres will be coming online as the scheme is rolled out. A letter from Public Health England with further information which can be distributed to staff can be accessed via:
To book a test, please follow this link: https://kcc.healthit.org.uk/covbook/home
Covid-19 Immunisation Programme
Some providers have asked if and when they might have priority access to the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme. Eligibility has been determined nationally by the Advisory Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and detailed in the Green Book, which is effectively government policy.
The priority groups for vaccination advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are shown on page eight.
This is what the NHS is putting into practice locally.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Earlier this week we wrote to you regarding the Government’s position on Early Education Funding this term. Please be aware that providers mainly or 100% funded from FEE can access the CJRS as described below.
Providers should note that the guidance on Early Years providers’ access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been updated to reflect this approach to funding in the spring term, to take account of the position of any providers who see reductions in entitlements funding as a result.
In the spring term 2021, local authorities’ funding to providers should return to the normal approach of funding on the number of entitlement hours delivered. The following guidance is relevant to EY providers being funded on this basis.
We recognise that many early years providers rely on a mix of DSG funding and other income streams such as parental fees. Where DSG funding has reduced, or non-public income has ceased or reduced, it may be appropriate for providers to seek support from the CJRS to furlough staff. Providers should only furlough employees if they meet the following conditions:
- the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
- the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
- the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
- the employee is not required to deliver provision for an attending child
- the grant from CJRS would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created.
If it is difficult to distinguish whether staff are funded through continuing public funding, for the purposes of meeting the first 3 conditions listed above, then the total proportion of staff (based on gross payroll) that are retained (for example, not furloughed) should, as a minimum, be equivalent to the continuing DSG funding, as a proportion of all income that the provider usually receives. For example, if the current DSG funding is equivalent to 25% of normal total income, then this should be the proportion of staff (based on gross payroll) that could not be furloughed.
Where providers consider furloughing staff, they should ensure that they take a fair and reasonable approach to part-time, sessional and temporary staff, reflective of good HR practice and legal requirements.
We would expect nurseries and childminders to bring staff off furlough and back to work as demand increases. In practice this will mean that, for example, if they have furloughed 6 members of staff, and they need 3 back at work in order to meet demand for childcare, then they should bring 3 staff off furlough and back to work, and reduce their claim on the CJRS accordingly.
Support for Children of Key Workers and School Opening Times
Schools have received two letters from David Adams, KCC Interim Director of Education this week. The following is an excerpt from one of them for your information:
Whilst we understand that schools are trying to restrict numbers of pupils accessing the school at this time to support the fight to reduce transmission of the virus, I need again to clarify the DfE guidance on provision for key workers. This does not stipulate that both parents must be key workers. Therefore, I ask that if you are placing such restrictions on families accessing your school, please reconsider this.
Additionally, we have been informed that a number of schools have adjusted the timing of the school day, thereby restricting the time supporting key worker children which is impacting on staff in other schools, on teachers delivering remote learning, and on partner agencies, particularly the NHS. I request that you consider this when establishing your provision. Wraparound provision, including before and after school clubs, can continue to operate in all primary schools; for those primary schools within the contingency framework area attendance is restricted to children of critical workers and vulnerable children until the 18 January. Whilst schools are not required to continue to operate these provisions, both we and the DfE would ask schools consider the implications for parents who are critical workers and the impact on vulnerable children if these provisions are to cease and encourage provisions to continue where schools are able to safely operate for those that need them.
The latest DfE guidance regarding Key Workers can be found here: children of critical workers.
Coronavirus- advice for parents and carers
My Back to School Bubble
Based on suggestions provided, ‘My Back to School Bubble’ aims to help children understand the new protective measures that may be in place at their school, in an age-appropriate way. It reinforces public health messages, including the importance of hand and respiratory hygiene; while reassuring children that everyone makes mistakes, helping to combat feelings of anxiety, that have been reported by parents.
Positive Approaches to Support
We have been asked to share with you a new resource for family and carers of children/young people, who may have autism/learning disabilities and who display challenging behaviour.
It has been produced by the Tizard Centre at University of Kent, together with the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and family carers.
This adapts some work developed as ‘Early Positive Approaches to Support’ (E-PatS training).
It offers practical help and support suggestions for family carers during this COVID-19 situation and beyond.
Mental Wellbeing Support Covid-19
Sent on behalf of KCC and CCG Commissioners
We have been asked to share the following information with you.
Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care notified us that the Tiger Eye Protector Products they supplied must be removed from the supply chain, the attached notice refers. Whilst it may not be used in your organisation, it is necessary to make sure that this information is shared and the appropriate action taken.
Our CCG colleagues have also asked us to share the following message:
We have seen an increase in distress in young people, specifically 10 to 16 who are feeling socially isolated and may be struggling with conflict or relationship difficulties at home. In addition, we know that young people who display behaviours associated with neurodevelopment conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or ADHD are likely to find it more difficult to recognise their distress and access support associated with their wellbeing.
Action is being taken across schools, health services and social care to try to identify young people who may be particularly vulnerable to emotional distress at this time. However, we would like to draw your attention to a range of support available to young people and their families.
Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Young People:
If a young person or their parents are not sure what support is needed, then they can call the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 123 4496 to talk through what information, advice and support might be appropriate. This is also the number to call if a child or young person needs urgent mental health support.
For people of all ages needing immediate mental health support, just text the word “Kent” to 85258. This is a new 24/7 text service provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line as part of the Kent and Medway Release the Pressure campaign.
Other services that young people can access directly are:
- Kooth is a mental health and wellbeing online platform for young people aged 10 to 16 across the whole of Kent. The service is free and can be accessed at www.kooth.com. It’s a place to get advice, information and support 24/7. Young people can chat to a friendly qualified counsellor Monday to Friday between 12 noon and 10pm and Saturday and Sunday between 6pm and 10pm.
- Accessing www.moodspark.org.uk or www.kentresiliencehub.org.uk to learn about mental health and find tips and resources to keep emotionally healthy.
- Texting ChatHealth for support around physical and mental health on 07520 618850. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
- Self-referring to the Children and Young People’s Counselling Service at www.kentcht.nhs.uk/forms/school-health-service-referral-form
- Accessing the Big White Wall if aged 16+ for anonymous support through https://www.bigwhitewall.com
Disabled Family Fund
An active grant scheme for families experiencing hardship: https://www.familyfund.org.uk/faqs/how-do-we-apply
From their webpage: We help families across the UK who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 17 or under. You can apply to Family Fund if:
• You live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (Please note: If you are a family living in Wales, please visit our Wales application pages to apply.)
• You are the parent or carer of a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 0-17 who lives with you
• You are currently living in the UK and done so for at least six months, or three months if your child is less than six months old. You are eligible to work and apply for public funds
• Your child is not in Local Authority care
• You have evidence of entitlement to any one of the following:
• Universal Credit
• Child Tax Credit
• Working Tax Credit
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income Related Employment Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Housing Benefit
• Pension Credit.
• Your child or young person has a high level of additional support needs arising from a long term disability or disabling condition or a serious or life-limiting illness. By long-term, we mean lasting (or likely to last) 12-months+
Please read our child and young person eligibility criteria. You must meet all Family Fund eligibility criteria in order to be considered for a grant.
Parent Guide COVID19
Open pdf in a new tab
This will open the pdf in a new browser window (which you can then download to your machine). On phones, clicking the link will probably automatically download the document to your device.
- COVID-19 Hospital Passport
- Emergency Plan – Template and Tips
- Emergency Planning with families
- LDE Hospital Passport Session
Maidstone Borough Council Community Support Hub
Maidstone Borough Council has created a Community Support Hub to provide a coordinated response to help provide and deliver essentials to people across the borough who are most in need.
The Council led Hub has been set-up in response to the Government introduction of ‘shielding’ and the call to create a network of hubs covering the whole country for the most vulnerable. The Maidstone Hub will offer help to those people who don’t have a support system in place and to assist those people with serious medical conditions who have been told to remain indoors for 12 weeks because of the Coronavirus.
Working with local volunteer and community groups the MBC Hub will provide a service to anyone of any age who is in need of additional support at this time.
Maidstone Borough Council Leader, Cllr Martin Cox said:
“The Maidstone Community Hub is here to help our local residents who are most in need. It will provide a service to the most vulnerable working in partnership with other agencies and community groups. This will include helping people who are socially isolated, those who may need essential groceries or medication.
“The MBC team has worked very hard to set-up this service which we believe is vital to ensuring the most vulnerable are looked after.”
The Maidstone Borough Council Community Hub will have a specific focus on providing access to food, medicines and other supplies and will be open Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm.
The introduction of the network of community hubs was announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who said free parcels of groceries would be delivered to the most vulnerable, adding: “Nobody needs to worry about getting the food and essential items that they will need.”
Those who need help from the MBC Community Support Hub should call freephone: Community Hub Triage (Freephone 0300 303 1650) or can contact us via the MBC website.
Following recent guidance from the government, we will be closing our setting to all children, young people, volunteers and vulnerable staff who attend our Playschool, Juniors and Youth Clubs, from Friday 19.03.20 to 20.04.20 (after the Easter break) or until further notice, following continuing guidance from the Department of Public Health.
Hopefully, this measure, in line with all other government and public health advice (including “social distancing” and “stay at home” being adhered to by all), will start to have a positive impact and curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The spike of the virus is happening at a much faster pace than anticipated, and it is right to consider the measures to arrest this increase and to relieve the potential pressures on our health system. It is still not known how or if children spread the virus. Their well-being and that of all our supporting teams continue to be our number one priority.
We will continue to regularly update our staff and parents following the latest advice and guidance from Public Health England.
We will continue to assess the situation daily and have closely aligned ourselves with the latest government advice and guidance.
With the number of Coronavirus cases continuing to rise in the UK, we have in place continuing measures to help protect our teams and service users, whose well-being is our number one priority.
We will continue to regularly update our staff and parents following the latest advice and guidance from Public Health England, with our teams being made fully aware of the importance of ensuring that our best hygiene practices are consistently followed through all our clubs.
Our teams are observing the highest hygiene standards, including regular hand washing, cleaning of surfaces and resources with regular checks of our toilet and changing areas.
Cleanliness and hygiene are always a top priority, and we provide appropriate handwashing soap, gel and sanitisers available for all to use.
We are working hard to minimise disruptions to the children and young people entrusted to our care and support, as much as is possible. At the same time we are taking sensible precautions to protect the health of all.
We continue to assess the situation daily and have closely aligned ourselves with latest government advice and guidance. Any team member showing mild symptoms or who are vulnerable will be told to self-isolate and follow recommendations on Social Distancing, and Stay-at-Home Guidance (as issued by the government).
Guidance on Social Distancing
Stay at Home Information
Government announces move from Contain to Delay phase
The Government has announced we are moving from the Contain phase of the coronavirus action plan and into the Delay phase, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the Department for Health and Social Care has asked anyone who shows certain symptoms to stay at home for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people should stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.
The symptoms are:
- A high temperature (37.8 degrees +)
- A new, continuous cough
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England. You do not need to call NHS 111 to stay at home. If your symptoms worsen during your stay at home period or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
The Chief Medical Officer has advised the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce will be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to schools will be based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
COVID-19 travel guidance for the education sector
The Government has issued new travel guidance for the education sector. This advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18. This does not apply to domestic trips, or overseas trips which are already underway.
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.
Watch this short NHS film for guidance:
The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends.
If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling.
Where to find the latest information
- Updates on COVID-19
- Guidance for educational settings
- Guidance for social or community care and residential settings
- Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas
Latest Department for Education information:
Please keep your GIAS contacts up to date
If you work in a school, please take this opportunity to review your contact information in Get Information About Schools (GIAS).
To update your record, please go to the GIAS home page, “Sign in” using your “DfE Sign-in” credentials and select GIAS from your available services here: