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10 July 2020
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years and Childcare Coronavirus Blog - Issue 12

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Hello everyone – I trust that this, our twelfth Early Years and Childcare COVID-19 Blog finds you still safe and well. I hope that you will agree with me that it is encouraging to see different elements of our society and communities beginning to return to something that we recognise from prior to lockdown, including of course the early years and childcare sector. We continue to see this in the amount of provision open in Kent with significant increases in the number of early years group settings and childminders now open – early years groups settings have increased from 524 to 565 and childminders from 590 to 622. Many stand-alone out of school settings remain closed but we anticipate that this may start to change soon. The total number of children being cared for has also increased from 17,330 last week to 18,947, a continuing testament to growing parental/family confidence. We continue to be thankful for and appreciative of everything that you are doing on this road to recovery.

Support from Kent County Council

Kent County Council (KCC) has recently taken the decision to offer a token of its appreciation to providers that were able to open during the lockdown period (24 March – 31 May) in recognition of the particular challenges experienced and additional costs incurred, as follows:

- by offering a one-off monetary contribution to the costs of PPE equipment incurred during this time
- by commissioning The Education People to make available some funded support drawn from its Threads of Success offer.

If you are a provider who was able to open during this time, we will be writing to you soon with further information.

Communications going forward

As mentioned last week, we will be carrying on with this weekly Early Years and Childcare COVID-19 Blog until the end of term (so the final one will be on Friday 24 July). During August we will continue to communicate with you but this will be on an ‘as and when’ basis, in line with any information being released by the Government that we need to make you aware of. At the beginning of September we will do a ‘summer round up’ and also confirm how we will be communicating from then onwards, depending on the circumstances we all find ourselves in at that point. In the meantime and throughout we continue to be available to support you in the usual ways (contact details at the end of this Blog, also as usual).

Thank you.

Yours, as ever
Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years and Childcare
The Education People

Message from Lisa Evans (Early Years and Childcare Provider Association Chair)

Kent County Council - Children and Young People Cell

Formed 14 May 2020

The Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG) is part of the collective recovery arrangements for the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF). This multi-agency group provides coordination, advice and support for the recovery to the KRF, Kent Joint Chiefs and Government. It also feeds into individual organisational recovery planning and each partner’s own executive decision-making and governance arrangements.

The RCG is supported by seven cells, which inform the recovery work by focusing on a detailed theme or sector-based remit. Alex Gamby approached me (as Chair of the Early Years and Childcare Provider Association) to represent the early years and childcare sector on the Children and Young People Cell, which I have undertaken by attending regular meetings. Discussions with the Early Years and Childcare Provider Association have been used to form part of my response. This alongside work completed by The Education People has ensured that the voice of our sector has been represented as fully as it can be.

The cell produced an impact assessment, success criteria and short, medium- and long-term actions, relevant to the Children and Young People Cell, to inform the overall recovery action plan. The key priorities for early years and childcare were embedded in the ‘Facilitating Early Years and Childcare and Schools’ Return section and included a focus on:

1: Return to school/setting plan
2: Assessing children’s/pupils’ emotional health and wellbeing
3. Recover Learning Loss
4. Support to sustain the early years, voluntary and private sector providers.

Further information will follow in due course.

Thank you
Lisa Evans
EYCC Association Chair

Government Guidance for This Week

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing: privacy information Changed from “if it is confirmed that you contracted COVID-19 from a work-related exposure your employer is obliged to report this to the Health and Safety Executive” to “if there is reasonable evidence that you contracted COVID-19 from a work-related exposure your employer is obliged to report this to the Health and Safety Executive”. (Published 8 July 2020)

Education plans from September 2020  This reinforces the same message that was in the Action for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak revised document from last week around how Ofsted will be giving a progress report from those on a less than good judgement and then reinstating routine inspections as of January 2020. (Published 6 July 2020)

Managing school premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak  Minor amends to the ventilation and fire safety sections. To reflect information in other government documents; review, update and communicate fire management plans.  Where mechanical ventilation is present, recirculatory systems should be adjusted to full fresh air. If this is not possible, systems should be operated as normal. (Updated 7 July 2020)

Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus (COVID-19) (Updated 6 July 2020)

Maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace  This links with the above about recording those who are in close contact or on the premises for a sustained period of time and ensuring you have all the details to contact the person again. (Published 3 July 2020)

Claims against the HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - deadline reminder and updated DfE guidance

The HMRC has confirmed 31 July is the last day to submit claims to the CJRS for furlough periods ending on or before 30 June. After this date, any further claims to this scheme for furlough periods between July – October can only be made in respect of employees whose first claim period started on or before 10 June (i.e. furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks during the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020).

Further information on this and other changes to the scheme from 1 July can be found here Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through CJRS.

The DfE guidance has also been updated on the circumstances where early years providers can furlough staff and claim for funding from the HMRC CJRS. It reflects the circumstances where you will start to see a portion of your private income returning and are able to begin to bring staff off furlough and back to work. Key messages include:

  • Any claim through the CJRS should continue to be proportionate to lost income
  • It is also essential that the grant from the CJRS should not be duplicative of other public grants that your organisations may receive
  • Providers should continue to use the month of February 2020 to represent their usual income, in calculating the proportion of its salary bill eligible to be covered by the scheme adjusted for any changes in Government funding. This proportion should also be reduced to reflect any parent-paid income that has been received
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that they have followed the relevant guidance and that the information they have provided is accurate
  • The HMRC CJRS helpline can offer further advice - see Get help with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for more information.

News and Information

Are you missing out on filling vacancies over the summer and in September?

When the Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS) receives a request for information about possible childcare places, they signpost families to the childcare directory on  If settings have not given permission for their records to appear on the directory, families will not be able to view them.

If you are not sure that you have given the appropriate permissions, search the directory to see if your setting appears in the results.  If it does not appear during your search and you have already set up an account to make changes to your record, you may want to complete the form to give the appropriate permission for it to do so.

During our current exercise to provide information on school holiday childcare to families, CFIS has been unable to include several settings on their lists because no permissions had been given to share information with families.

If you require instructions on setting up an account and giving permissions please email.

Health Visiting Service Update

At the beginning of June 2020, 9-12 month and 2-2.5 developmental reviews were re-instated for all families with the contact being undertaken virtually either by phone or video consultation for all Universal families.

We are continuing to work with our health colleagues to reassess how the Integrated Review at Two can be implemented under the current circumstances and will be sharing next steps with you in the Autumn. In the meantime, please continue to use the Health Visitor duty line to access further advice, request support from the Early Years and Childcare Equality and Inclusion Advisers or Childminding Advisers and use the EY Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT) processes to access Specialist Teaching and Learning Services (STLS) support. We are all still available to offer virtual advice until such time we can offer face-to-face visits.

What is Infant Mental Health? Why does it matter?

Good infant mental health promotes positive outcomes throughout a person’s life and influences how they parent their own children. Investing in infant mental health pays dividends for generations to come.

This infographic, created for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, describes what infant mental health is and why it matters. It explains the fundamental role of early relationships and how infant mental health lays the foundations for a range of important outcomes.

A new resource for parents and carers - “Explore Your Options”

To help parents and carers who think their child might have SEND (Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities) and might need additional help from their early years provider or in school, KCC has developed a new resource “Explore Your Options”. By answering a few questions parents and carers can get recommendations about the next steps they can take, who to talk to and where they can find out information and get advice about what support may be available for their child. This resource can be found on Kent’s SEND Local Offer website.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Early Years and Childcare Service has published and regularly updates a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document which was recently updated on Kelsi and can be accessed by the link below. As this FAQs document is now getting very long, we will be putting new questions for each week in a separate document, whilst of course retaining and continuing to make accessible all questions.

Briefing and Networking Sessions

Our regular Briefing and Networking Sessions will be held in October as usual but will be held virtually via Zoom. The sessions will be bookable via CPD Online and the Zoom links will be live shortly.

In the meantime, the dates and course codes are as follows:

Good Practice Examples of How Settings Have Supported Vulnerable or Key Worker Children

This week we have an example of good practice from a childminder:

The childminder has sent parents short video clips of how to make various resources such as slime, cloud dough and coloured rice which exemplifies the Enhancing Family Involvement in Children’s Learning principles, ensuring children are continuing to have good opportunities to learn, explore and develop new skills.

Please continue to tell us more about the excellent work you are doing so that we can share your stories in this section.

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