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1 May 2020
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years and Childcare Coronavirus Blog Issue 2

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Hello everyone,

I can hardly believe that yet another week has passed. I would like to once again acknowledge and say thank you for the ongoing contribution made by those of you who have been able to continue to stay open. We do recognise the considerable pressure many of you are under in the light of sometimes shifting government requirements and guidelines and as you anticipate information from Kent County Council (KCC) and The Education People.

In that context I am now able to tell you that KCC is introducing a ‘financial distress payment’ for those providers who are currently open and are under immediate financial pressure where there is a risk you are unable to continue to provide a service. This will initially be available to early years group settings with wider measures to support all providers who remain open during this period also being considered, the outcome of this will be communicated in due course.

A letter from Matt Dunkley (Corporate Director, Children, Young People and Education) will follow at the beginning of next week, as will details of how the financial distress payment can be accessed.
In the meantime, I hope you have a pleasant weekend and are able to stay safe and well.

Alex Gamby

Brokerage Service
As you know we have been supporting parents and carers who are critical workers or who have vulnerable children to source childcare during the Coronavirus outbreak through our Brokerage Service. If you are a setting who has identified the need to close your provision, we know that you will be wanting to help signpost your existing families to alternative provision. Could you please provide us with details of all children who, as far as you are aware, have not been able to source alternative provision (along with parental consent to share this information) so that we can include these children in our brokerage activity by emailing [email protected]. Could you kindly include in the information to CFIS the following details:

  • Initials and the age of the child
  • The days and times childcare is needed – please include ability of the family to be flexible on this
  • Parents’ home postcode
  • Parents’ work postcode
  • Other relevant information – please include Early Education Funded hours child is entitled to and any specific needs of the child

Thank you for your cooperation.

Kent Safeguarding Children Multi Agency Partnership (KSCMP) has developed a ‘News’ page on their website.  The aim of this page is to provide any new information relating to safeguarding children during these challenging times.
Currently it includes information provided by partner agencies who wish to highlight and share key safeguarding issues with their multi-agency colleagues, including managing crying babies.

Government guidance for this week

Managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak - Guidance on managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak.  This document contains some important guidance for providers to carry out from now to their ‘full’ return.  Providers should also identify a person responsible for the building (published 24/4/20).

Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications - Elements of the statutory framework have been revised to reflect the impact of COVID-19 (published 24/4/2020).

Guidance: for using clusters and hub models - This provides a framework for new and existing hubs/clusters where settings have taken new children/staff since the COVID-19 outbreak (published 24/4/20).

Coronavirus: Getting tested - Childcare workers are now classed as essential workers for testing; as such take priority for COVID-19 testing (updated 29/4/20).

Use of FEE Funding during coronavirus  - Explores when and how local authorities can redistribute funding to ensure sufficient places during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.   The eligibility criteria for the two-year-old entitlement to include children assessed as being vulnerable and meeting the definition in Section 17 of the Children Act (1989) (published 28/4/20).

Bounce back loan - Small and medium businesses can obtain up to a £50,000 loan with no fees or interest for the first 12 months (published 27/4/20).

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers - The government has created a step-by-step document demonstrating how to work out what employers can claim under the CJRS.

Fraud and cyber crime - This is guidance for businesses to remain safe as the government recognises cyber crime has increased during the COVID-19 outbreak (updated 27/4/20).

Ofsted rolling update - Updated to include that some schools, further education providers and early years providers have contacted Ofsted asking them to publish the report of their recent inspection. Ofsted had said that they would publish those reports only when providers reopen as normal for all children/students. Ofsted is now writing to all providers with reports in the pipeline to ask whether they would like their report published as soon as possible. If providers say yes, Ofsted will publish their report shortly (updated 30/4/20).

Good Practice

Examples of how settings have supported vulnerable or key worker children

This week we have some examples of good practice from providers in the west of the county:

A nursery is working hard to keep in touch with children and families who are not currently attending the setting. They are using technology, in particular their parent tapestry groups to share information and resources. Daily, a member of the team posts ideas for activities or video clips and parents respond by posting clips of the children completing this and other activities, or upload drawings or photos of what the children have being doing at home. They are also using Facebook and other social media to communicate with families.

As a team they have been very worried about the transition for children when they return to the nursery and are trying to keep relationships and attachments as strong as they can. They have set up a staff board on tapestry and put little stories on about what each child’s key person has been doing so that parents can read this to their children and support them with keeping strong attachments.

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