Coronavirus - Guidance for childcare and early years settings

31 March 2020 4.40pm

Director's update 

Changes to Health Provision including Therapies

Healthcare provision in and connected to schools, including therapies, continues to be supported, however such provision is unlikely to be in the same form that parents and carers are used to.

Healthcare practitioners have been reviewing their caseload during this time and rating each according to need, to enable their initial priority to be providing support to the most vulnerable children and/or to those with the most complex needs. This support is being delivered through remote means where possible, such as by phone or video conferencing, unless there are specific requirements for it to be delivered in person. The approach to work remotely wherever possible is to safeguard children and young people and their families or carers and we would also hope that this approach will safeguard the healthcare practitioners so that they are able to continue to support children and young people for the longest period possible. There will be some children and young people, however, who do need to receive physical support from therapists, either because of their specific on-going needs, or because of an emergency situation.

Whilst some parent carers may feel they are not currently receiving support, this is because some children are a higher priority and we ask for understanding from families as we all adapt to new ways of working. 

Children Looked After (CLA) 

The Virtual School has produced guidance related to CLA and educational provision during setting closures. This is available from the Virtual School web page. There is also a link to a number of free on line learning resources

30 March 2020 4.40pm

Director's update 

DfE Advice and Guidance 

A number of changes in the advice and guidance from the DfE have been made over the last few days – for ease these are highlighted below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings Guidance added on ‘COVID-19: safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers’.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people Updated the following sections of the guidance:

  1. (as below re vulnerable children);
  1. Do all children and young people with an EHC plan need to continue at school?

Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home. Schools, colleges, other training providers and local authorities will need to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. Local authorities and schools or colleges should decide together who is best placed to undertake the risk assessment, noting that the duty to ensure provision remains with the local authority. (See process above).

Also amended guidance at paragraphs: 21, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 30.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school closures

How are vulnerable children defined?

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children and young people up to the age of 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Those who have a social worker include children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. A child may also be deemed to be vulnerable if they have been assessed as being in need or otherwise meet the definition in section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

Is it compulsory for critical workers to accept their place offer?

No. Many parents working in these critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely upon those outside their household for childcare.

Is it compulsory for parents of vulnerable children to accept their place offer?

There is an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend provision, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and education provider should explore the reasons for this, directly with the parent. 

Should settings only offer places to children of single-parent critical workers and children where both their parents are critical workers?

Children with at least one parent/carer who is critical to the COVID-19 response can go to a setting if required. However, many families with parents working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

Will critical workers or parents of vulnerable children be penalised if they do not send their child to a setting?

Children with a parent or carer, who is listed on the critical worker list, are eligible for a setting place, if required. However, many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.  Parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend a setting.

What should settings do if vulnerable children do not attend?

There is an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend an education setting, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and education setting should explore the reasons for this, directly with the parent.

Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the setting or social worker should talk through these anxieties with the parent following the advice set out by Public Health England.

Providers may also want to consider how to encourage children and young people to attend an education setting. Social workers will remain in contact with vulnerable children and families, including remotely if needed.

Local authorities and education settings do not need to complete their usual day-to-day attendance processes to follow up on non-attendance. Schools/education providers and social workers should be agreeing with families whether children in need should be attending education provision – and the education provider should then follow up on any pupil that they were expecting to attend, who does not.

Education settings should also follow up with any parent or carer who has arranged care for their child(ren) and the child(ren) subsequently do not attend. To support the above, education settings should take the opportunity when communicating with parents and carers to confirm emergency contact numbers are correct and ask for any additional emergency contact numbers where they are available. In all circumstances where a vulnerable child does not take up their place at a setting,  or discontinues, the education setting should notify their social worker.

What public health advice should settings follow?

Settings should refer to the guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing and continue to follow the advice from Public Health England on handwashing and other measures to limit the risk of spread of coronavirus.

PPE Supplies 

If you have any immediate concerns about PPE, particularly for those working with children and young people in specialist provision, please let us know via:

Other Advice and Information

Published yesterday guidance from Public Health England for parents and carers on supporting mental health and wellbeing

27 March 2020 4.35pm

Director's update 

Statutory requirements – provision, assessment and planning

The changes to legislation require us to use our ‘reasonable endeavours’ to ensure that provision and support for children and young people is in place and is prioritised for those who are most vulnerable. We will be applying this principle to a range of statutory processes, such as those relating to Education, Health and Care Plans, Transition Plans and Personal Education Plans.

DfE Advice and Guidance 

The direct link to information from the DfE is below, it was last updated on 27 March:

Easter provision including bank holidays 

The DfE understands that this is a very difficult time for staff and that it is asking a lot to help the country fight this virus.

The DfE is aware that school leaders and local authorities will and are making sensible decisions about staffing including breaks that will be needed, but they are asking schools, wherever possible, to maintain provision for the children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response over the Easter holidays. 

The DfE is encouraging childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after the children of critical workers’ and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays wherever possible. This includes bank holidays where there is demand from parents.

All reasonable additional costs will be covered by the DfE.

Update on Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families service - Health visiting (0-15)

Antenatal visits will be undertaken over the telephone. New birth visits will continue face to face where possible, following appropriate telephone screening. Follow up visits for high risk mothers, babies and families will continue following appropriate telephone screening.

Visits to support vulnerable families and safeguarding visits will continue following appropriate telephone screening – practitioners will continue to have oversight of their caseload. All safeguarding and LAC will continue to be prioritised (dialling into strategy calls etc.)

Please be assured that support and advice will continue to be available for service users and professional colleagues via the Single Point of Access number below.   - 0300 247 0040

Early Years Funding Update

Please see a link to a document we have produced that provides answers to some frequently asked questions that you have been asking us about:

We apologise that we have not been able to answer each question asked of us personally but we have tried to include them all within this guide.   If you have any further queries, please do let us know and we will do our very best to help you.  You can contact us at  

The team have been working round the clock and we can now confirm that all of the interim payments have now been processed ahead of the payment date of 15 April.  This means that the funds for the 3 months April-June will start to reach bank accounts within the next couple of days.  We are aware that some can take up to 7 working days dependent on your business banking arrangements.

Acts of kindness

We wanted to share with you some of the wonderful acts of kindness that we know are taking place in settings around the county at this very difficult time.  We are truly inspired on a daily basis.  You are doing an amazing job in enabling key workers to continue in  their roles and in providing consistency of care for some of our more vulnerable children.  Thank you so much!

  • Lots of settings have told us that they are not charging parents if they are critical workers (we know that not everyone would be able to do that)
  • Lots of you have told us that your staff are volunteering to come in whenever they are needed
  • Some of you have been providing home learning games and activities packs for parents and their children
  • Some of you have been cooking meals for critical workers to take home
  • One setting told us that they had signed up to a surplus food collection scheme from a local supermarket.  "I set up a little stall outside on the street so anyone could pick up what they needed. Everyone was very grateful. They have put the collection on hold since lock down but I have said I will do it again as soon as I can."

We are in awe of you all!!!

26 March 2020 4.15 pm

Director's update 

Many thanks to everyone once again for the tremendous work taking place to support the most vulnerable children and offer support to all key workers. A special thank you was received today from a Lancashire GP, with helpful advice for those working in our schools and education settings. 

Advice and thanks from NHS

Andy Knox, GP and Director of Population Health in Morecambe Bay, has created a short informative video which is definitely worth watching and sharing with colleagues.

Today's key messages

The direct link to information from the DfE is below, it was last updated on 25 March:

Questions and Answers

An email address is now in place for any questions education settings may have about current operating arrangements, general concerns or queries:

Incoming mail will be monitored, and responses secured on your behalf. This will enable us to build up a ‘bank’ of answers which can be shared quickly and more widely. 

The Department for Education also has a coronavirus helpline for questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. The phone line is open: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday) - 0800 046 8687

Provision during the Easter holiday period

Advice on provision during Easter and on bank holidays is awaited from the DfE – we will update you as soon as we can.

Government guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings

The DfE published new guidance yesterday about how to implement social distancing in education and childcare settings. 

This guidance also gives advice for individuals in vulnerable health groups:

26 March 2020 10.00 am

Director's update

In the context of a rapidly changing situation and clarification of advice the direct link to information from the DfE is below:

The guidance was last updated on 24 March – it includes information about:

  • educational provision for vulnerable children and children of key workers
  • the closure of educational settings
  • free school meals arrangements
  • the cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels
  • travel guidance for educational settings
  • social distancing in education and childcare settings

Today's key messages

School and setting closures

We understand that it is becoming increasingly difficult for all schools and childcare settings to remain open, as numbers of staff reduce and decisions are made about children and young people remaining at home. However, we do need to follow the guidance from government so that we continue to support key workers and ensure the most vulnerable children are safe.

Please do not close your setting without firstly:

  • Alerting your allocated point of contact within the local authority (below)
  • Making arrangements for individual children with parents. The contact lists that are distributed each morning will help you to do this. If you experience any difficulties please contact our Family Information Service via email or telephone 0300 123 6712
  • Telling us about your changes via the snap survey

Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL)

A DSL should be available at all times, but they do not need to be in the building and can instead be contactable by phone. Please ensure staff have the relevant information about children in their care and ensure all staff know the arrangements for seeking advice if they have a safeguarding concern.

If your DSL is not available, then contact our Early Years Safeguarding Officer on 07909001430 or email, ring children's social care on 0300 123 6722 or the LADO on 01772 536694.

Questions and answers

An email address is now in place for any questions from education settings that you may have about current operating arrangements, general concerns or queries:

Incoming mail will be monitored, and responses secured on your behalf. This will enable us to build up a ‘bank’ of answers which can be shared quickly and more widely.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The DfE will be working with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available. We will issue more detailed guidance regarding the supply of Personal Protective Equipment to settings that require it when this becomes available. If you have any immediate concerns, particularly about children and young people in specialist provision, please let us know via the email address above.

Contact with settings

Council colleagues and partners have been asked to limit their direct contact with settings to that which is absolutely necessary, as we understand multiple contacts even though very well intentioned may not be helpful at the moment.

Public health school nursing and health visitors

Virgin Care is the Lancashire provider for school nursing services and health visiting services. Whilst there are immediate changes to service delivery following the latest NHS guidance, the service remains committed to providing support to children and young people.ngs

Please be assured the services can still be contacted via the single point of access: 0300 247 0040

Letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

Yesterday we received a copy of a letter from the Minister responsible for SEND. The letter restates government guidance which was shared in yesterday’s bulletin. The letter is attached in full.

Allocated points of contact

Childcare availability survey update

(Updated 24 March 2020, 9.20 am)

Thank you all for your assistance in quickly submitting information regarding the childcare availability for children attending your setting who are vulnerable or children where one of their parents are designated as 'critical' (as defined by the government). 

We understand that you are working in a quick paced changing environment and the data you submitted may already have changed. This data is likely to change daily in the foreseeable future due to illness or staff going into self-isolation.  To enable you to inform us about the availability of childcare that you can provide, whenever your situation changes please use this link: 

The survey remains open for any childcare providers who have not yet been able to respond and to make this easier for you it is likely that you may receive a call in the next few days for us to obtain this vital information.

Moving forward we plan to make this information available on our website to support childcare providers and eligible families who still require childcare.   

23 March 2020 12.40 pm

Director's update 

Things continue to change rapidly with regard to coronavirus as more advice is provided by central government. The direct link to information is below:

Thank you all for continuing to respond so proactively to meet the needs of the children, young people and their families we support. I have heard so many inspiring examples from schools during this very challenging time. It is uplifting to see how our partners are ready to ensure the right support is in place to meet need as we move forward.

Today's key messages:

A definitive list was provided in government guidance published on Friday 20th March. This included the expectation that one key worker in a household makes children eligible for childcare in school and settings.

Government guidance clearly states that the safest place for all children is at home and it is in this context we are providing support for key workers. Parents who are able to secure support from within the family home should be encouraged to do so; however, we are not able to challenge a parental decision to place a child in a school or setting. 

The Council is preparing a letter to verify key worker eligibility so that these staff can evidence their status as a key worker needed to deploy capacity across vital services. Whilst being supportive schools and settings also need to be vigilant so that we can support those who need it most.

Vulnerable children

The definition of vulnerable children was published on Friday 20th March and includes only those who: have a social worker or an EHCP. These are the only children who should be offered a childcare place in school or a setting; the guidance does not state that these children must attend school or a setting.

The safest place for children is at home. If there is deemed to be risk for individual children, schools and settings need to work with colleagues in Children’s Social Care and the Inclusion Service to put in place a risk assessment and make arrangements to maintain contact with the child and family.

Sustaining sufficient provision

The viability of all schools and settings in remaining open is likely to reduce and partnerships/hubs are already operating, helping to share resources so that the impact on reducing numbers of staff can be managed. Support from other services can also be coordinated in this way.

For schools the first point of contact for support and advice is your school adviser; if you do not have an assigned adviser then please contact the relevant senior adviser.  For settings, we are hoping to share information about which settings are remaining open in each district in order to enable you to consider if collaborating with other local settings is something that you want to consider.  This may enable you to offer places for key worker families and vulnerable children moving forwards. 

Managing risk on school sites and within settings

Many of you are concerned about the threat of the virus spreading whilst some children remain on school sites and within settings. We are working with our colleagues in public health to agree how to manage this as safely as possible. The

Director for Public Health has confirmed the following:

  1. Should schools and settings be taking the temperature of children arriving for childcare? No, but keep a watchful eye on children who are not well and contact parents.
  2. If someone is diagnosed with coronavirus – should the school or setting be shut for a deep clean? Cleaning should be done regularly; there is no need for closure for a deep clean. 
  3. Are the other children/ families to be told there is a diagnosed case? Contact within 2metres for more than 15 minutes e.g. teacher/practitioner in a setting, should result in advice to other children in the class to self-isolate for 7 days. 
  4. Staff who work in schools and settings  providing childcare should only do so for a week and then self-isolate for 3 weeks in case infectious? This is not true.

Schools and settings  should also continue to seek direct advice. 

Private Voluntary and Independent Childcare

The DfE guidance for schools includes advice to childcare providers and therefore the expectation is that, like schools, childcare remains available for those in vulnerable groups and the children of key workers. This needs to be considered carefully and parents should look after their own children at home if they are able to do so.

Coronavirus bill - understanding the implications

Some of our most vulnerable children are subject to statutory assessments. The practicalities of meeting all of our statutory requirements during this challenging time will be compromised. Whilst we, like other councils, are seeking guidance on this there is currently a legal requirement for these to continue.

Further information for childcare settings:

Things to consider:

  • If you take children from another setting that is closed because the children are those of critical workers or are vulnerable you must complete registration forms and ensure you have all health information. 
  • The same would apply for any new children that you enrol, that are those of critical workers or are vulnerable
  • You must maintain adult: child ratios
  • You must apply normal recruitment and vetting procedures
  • You must adhere to all normal registration and safeguarding reporting procedures

The Early Years Centre is now closed.  Staff are still working and can be contacted in the normal way through emailing or by telephoning 01772 456405

The Early Years team are also still working and can be contacted as per the details below:

Funding and Sufficiency Teams can be contacted in the normal way via email (or by phone on 01772 533552)

Useful FAQs:

23 March 2020 9.10am

Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Guidance for Early Years Settings March 2020

We  know, for our very youngest children, that every hour they spend in an early years setting makes a difference. With that in mind please find below some information that might support you in providing information for parents/carers to aid their children's learning and development at home.  This would particularly support any children who are unable to attend your setting should you need to either close, if advised to do so by Public Health England (PHE) or should children be self-isolating at home, in light of the coronavirus. 

23 March 2020 9am

The following guidance for schools, colleges, childcare settings and local authorities has been published by the Government.  It provides information which children will be able to access schools and childcare settings and which parents are deemed critical to the response to Covid 19 and whose children will also be able to attend:

20 March 2020 3.30pm 

Following the Government's announcement regarding the closure of early years settings to all children except children who are vulnerable and children where one or both of their parents are designated as 'critical' (as defined by the Government),  we urgently require assistance from you in establishing a picture of the current childcare availability in Lancashire.  This will help us to provide targeted support to settings and families that need it most at this difficult time.

Please could you click on the link below and submit the vital information we need about your childcare provision as a matter of urgency:

Thank you all for your help with this survey and for your continued efforts to support children and families in Lancashire in what we know is an extremely challenging period.

20 March 2020 12:05pm

I appreciate this is an extremely challenging and worrying time for you all following the recent announcements from Government over the last few days. Understandably our Early Years Teams are receiving lots of emails/calls about the situation.  We are in the process of collating these to share with you as soon as we can.

One of the main areas of concern is funding and the summer term headcount, so I just wanted to let you have an update on these aspects help alleviate some of the immediate concerns. I have summarised some key points below that I hope you find helpful.

Summer Term Payments

  • In order to support sustainability and cash flow for settings we have sought agreement to change the terms of payment for the summer term.  
  • All settings will receive 1 interim payment by the 15 April 2020 as detailed below to cover the equivalent of April-June monthly payments.
  • If we can get the interim payments paid sooner than the 15 April 2020 we will do so.
  • Final balance payments will be processed by the 15 July 2020 at the latest, based on actual summer term headcount hours claimed.
  • The reason why it has been agreed to make a larger interim payment in April and delay final balance payments until July is to reduce the risk of delays/non-payment, in the event of sickness/self- isolation within the EEF team.
  • This allows us some flexibility by ensuring settings have the funding to cover them from April to June, in the event that we do experience any issues in getting final balances paid within the normal timescales.
  • Please be assured that we will still endeavour to get all final balances paid by 15 June, as normal.  We will not hold back any final balance payments until July if we are able to process all the headcount claims within the normal timescales. 
  • Please see details below as to how the interim payments will be calculated for the Summer term: 

How we will calculate interims for the Summer term:

Settings that are not required to submit an on-line estimate of hours

  • You will receive one interim payment of 90% based on the Spring term actual headcount hours. 
  • This is the equivalent of 3 months interim payments of 30% per month.

Settings that are required to submit on-line estimates

  • You will receive one interim payment of 75% based on the estimated hours for summer that you submit. 
  • This is the equivalent of 3 months interim payments of 25% per month. 
  • If you have been invited to submit an estimate please ensure you submit your estimate of hours via the Provider Portal by Sunday 22 March 2020.
  • If you do not submit an estimate of hours by the specified deadline you will receive 90% of the hours that you claimed in the January headcount.
  • If you did not submit headcount claim in January it is imperative that you submit an estimate of hours otherwise we cannot process an interim payment for you as we will have no hours to base the payment on. 
  • Please also remember to submit a zero estimate of hours if you are not intending claiming hours in the summer term headcount, otherwise you will receive a payment which will then have to be re-paid.

Summer term Headcount:

  • Summer term headcount will go ahead as normal. 
  • The Provider Portal will be open from the 1 April to 26 April.  Further information about timescales for submission will follow in due course.
  • You will be able to claim for all children that are booked in/planned present in the headcount week even if the children have not attended in April due to the coronavirus restrictions, providing you have a signed parental agreement in place confirming that the parent wanted to take up their funded hours at your setting for the summer term.
    • This includes any new children that were only due to take up their place from 1 April.
    • It also includes all existing children, providing their parents have not given written notice prior to the headcount week, in which case, normal rules will apply and you will only be able to claim up to the end of the notice period.
  • It is imperative that you have signed parental agreements in place for all the children booked in/planned present for the summer term as normal.  It is ok for you to get the parental agreements completed by email from any parents that have not yet signed them. Please keep a copy of their email as evidence of signature if this is the case.   
  • In the event of two or more settings claiming for the same child, the claim will be apportioned, as normal and copies of parental agreements will be required in order to resolve any disputes.

Support from the Funding Team, Early Years Consultants and Childcare Development Team

  • In line with government advice we are all now working from home (in the main). 
  • It is still business as usual, however, the systems may be running slightly slower than if we were working from county council buildings so please bear with us if you don’t get a response as quickly as normal.
  • As mentioned earlier we are, understandably, receiving a large number of emails and the teams will continue to respond as best they can. 
  • We may not have all the answers at this point in time, so please do not worry if you do not get an immediate response. 
  • We will also issue FAQ's as soon as possible and will let you know when these become available.
  • You can still contact all our teams as normal either by email or telephone as detailed below:

Funding Team please email or telephone 01772 533552.

Early Years Consultants and Childcare Development Team please email or telephone 01772 456405

Please be assured that we will all continue to support the early years sector as best we can during these difficult and extremely challenging times.

20 March 2020 10.25am 

Our Executive director Edwina Grant has sent her thanks for your tremendous response to this increasingly challenging scenario we find ourselves in, in managing a coordinated response to the coronavirus.

In light of the government publication last night we know you will now be working at a ridiculously fast pace – thank you!

Please be assured that as a Local Authority we are placing great emphasis on "Principle 1: If at all possible for your children to be at home, then they should be".  In addition there is the phrase "and every child who can safely be cared for at home should be".   So parents can be really urged to consider that their child/ren's first place of safety is at home.

We have now had the clarity around "vulnerable groups" and we are applying those across all of Lancashire. This is only children with a social worker or an EHCP in place. Whilst we would all consider many more children to be vulnerable for this COVID19 response we are applying the government definition. It is only these 2 groups of children who settings are being asked to continue to provide with care.

There have been many questions around "critical to COVID19 workers" (a change from key workers).

The government clearly states that if 1 parent is designated as "critical" then their child/ren should be offered a place in a setting.

As a Local Authority we are encouraging settings to be flexible in order to support all our staff who work across settings to continue in their critical and crucial work. Therefore we are supportive of individual settings considering a member of staff bringing their own children with them to the setting they work in. This also supports the government request for all people to reduce travel and to not mix un-necessarily. So in enabling a family to stay together there is less chance of infection and also families are not travelling to multiple setting destinations. This would all need to have appropriate risk assessments in place. We hope that this is a supportive decision for settings, staff and families.

We are shortly going to be sending all settings a form to complete electronically that will provide us with key information regarding the numbers of children from critical worker families needing places and also the number of vulnerable children. 

The information released overnight has clear criteria in for these two groups: GOV.UK - Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

Over the coming days we will support settings to pool resources and create childcare hubs should they want to do so.  Realistically these arrangements are not going to be in place for Monday.  We would ask you then, were possible, at least as an interim measure, to remain open just for the children of your critical worker families and your vulnerable children until hub arrangements can be looked into further.   This would be a tremendous help in keeping our frontline workers available for the vital work in tackling the virus that they are doing.

We are mindful of how difficult this is for us all and we continue to be so inspired by the number of settings who are proactively choosing to collaborate in partnerships across the County to offer support. We also respect and value that many settings are choosing to keep their own children within their own settings to minimise disruption to them and their families.

As time goes on, we think it will be sensible to pool support so that we make best use of our shared resources so we are working to nominate key contacts to hubs as they emerge.

Managing staff absence

Many of you will be running on ever reducing numbers of staff and this will be impacting on your ability to respond to the requirement to support vulnerable groups and critical workers.

We are working with our services and partners to collate groups of volunteers to bolster staff absences. This needs to be carefully managed as we will need to ensure all such volunteers are DBS checked and are supported.

We are also grateful for those settings, teams and individuals who have indicated that they are well-staffed and have members of staff who could support another setting/hub.  The electronic form that we will send today will ask you to indicate if this is something that your team can offer.

Extending support outside of school hours and at weekends

To enable our critical workers to continue to help us all, we are exploring the options to provide support at weekends and in the school holidays. This will be challenging and will require additional support.

I am aware that many settings have already arranged staff rotas for the duration of the two week Easter closure, including the Good Friday and Easter Monday, with staff willingly volunteering to work to provide child care in the school/hub for key worker children. This is truly generous.

19 March 2020

We want to reassure you that planning is taking place at strategic and operational level across Lancashire County Council.

The government have confirmed that funding for the early years entitlements will continue during any periods of closure. Settings will therefore claim headcount in the normal way for all children that were booked in/planned to be present from 1 April 2020 (i.e. this includes any new starters where parents have signed the parental agreement for the summer term).

We are also currently seeking agreement to change the payment terms for the summer term, and make a larger interim payment to support cash flow.  More information about headcount and payments will be provided in due course.

These are the points currently being discussed and solutions worked on.  This list is not exhaustive and there are others that will follow.

  • We are currently seeking agreement to change the payment terms for the summer term, and make a larger interim payment to support cash flow.  More information about headcount and payments will be provided in due course.
  • We are currently waiting for clarity around what the government meant by ‘key workers.’ It has been agreed that in Lancashire "school staff" (not just teachers) will be classed as key workers. In addition to this all staff who support health services, social care, delivery drivers and emergency services.    The expectation is that all settings will remain open for the children of such workers. 
  • In addition to this, the expectation is that settings will continue to provide places for vulnerable children who attend.  Again, we are currently waiting for clarity around what the government meant by 'vulnerable' children.  For now, in Lancashire we are working on these children being counted within this group: Children with a social worker; Children accessing early help with children, family and wellbeing services; Children looked after, children with an EHCP; Children in the process of applying for an EHCP; Children with an open CAF.   We are also seeking clarity around whether or not funded two year olds and those children accessing EYPP would also fit into this category, although we think this is unlikely to be the case.
  • For your own planning purposes it would be helpful to establish how many children in your setting would qualify for this provision.
  • If you are a term time only setting consider if you would be able to provide places over the school holidays to enable parents of keyworkers to continue working over these periods should they be needed to do so.
  • We know now that the expectations of the provision for the children from Monday is predominantly childcare and as such the learning and development requirements of the EYFS will not be expected to be met.
  • For the majority of children who are not expected to be attending from next week(i.e. non vulnerable groups of children of families who are not key workers), then, the expectation is that home learning is supported
  • Over the coming days it maybe that settings choose to 'hub' together and share staff and children, rather than opening all settings within localities.  That would be through private arrangements between settings.  We would recommend in such situations that a member of staff from each setting joins children from their own setting in the hub in order to meet the needs and best interests of their children. 

We would ask now then that settings start to gather information that will include:

  1. Numbers of children in each of designated categories
  2. Use the above definition of key workers and vulnerable children for now

We will continue to publish information here as soon as it becomes available.