Childcare key workers in Gwynedd

Date: 20/03/2020

(Published 20 March 2020)

Following the government's announcement that all schools will be closed indefinitely from 20 March, Gwynedd Council is making arrangements to provide childcare for the children of parents who are key workers and for vulnerable children in the county.

From Monday, childcare will be provided if a parent works in one of these key sectors:

NHS;

Armed services;

School staff and child care staff;

Care home workers;

Social workers;

Police, community and civil staff;

Prison officers and probation officers;

Fire officers;

Local Authority emergency planners;

Environmental health officers;

Farmers and those who are responsible for food production;

Highways Agency traffic officers;

Government and Local Government staff that have been identified by their departments as key workers during this period.

(These arrangements will be reviewed on a regular basis)

 

The Council will review the arrangements as the situation develops over the coming weeks and consider whether arrangements need to be adjusted as things change in line with Welsh Government advice.

Garem Jackson, Gwynedd Council Head of Education said: “The current situation is unprecedented and we are working closely with partners locally and nationally to respond.

“As part of this commitment, we are preparing to be able to provide childcare services within our schools to ensure the continuation of key services. It is important to underline that the service is not intended to replace the service from private childcare providers, but to increase capacity when schools are closed for the time being.

 "Schools have already been in contact with parents and arrangements are in place to start care provision from Monday, 23 March."

 The care will be provided at the school where the children are registered as pupils. Children will need to bring a packed lunch, or alternatively a packed lunch can be purchased from the school.

 The service is expected to be available five days a week between 8am and 5pm from Monday, 23 March 2020.

 

More details about the national guidance is available here https://gov.wales/5-things-you-need-know-sending-your-children-school-or-childcare

 

Full details of the arrangements:

 

The UK and Welsh Government have given clear guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.

This is also why the UK and Welsh Governments have asked parents/carers to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open as care provision only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

It is important that schools and other educational establishments remain safe places for children, and we must prioritise the health of our staff. The fewer children who go to school, and the fewer children in our schools, the lower the risk that this virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals.

 

Care provision

Schools have, therefore, been asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the local COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

 

Children of “key” workers

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

The key principles to be followed are:

1. Children who can be kept at home safely should remain at home.

2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then care in your local school will hopefully be available for them.

3. Parents should not rely on childcare from individuals in the recognised vulnerable groups.

4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

If your child requires access to the care provision as of 23.3.20 (Monday to Friday 8am-5pm) as a result of a parent meeting the above key worker criteria, please inform the school. We kindly ask that you provide them with a suitable lunch where possible, but if this is not possible a packed lunch will be available.

We are grateful for the work of teachers and workers in schools for continuing to provide care for the children of key workers. This is an essential part of our local effort to combat this disease.

 

“Vulnerable” learners

Children considered as vulnerable can also access the above provision. If you have an allocated Social Worker or are open to Children and Family Services i.e. Team Around the Family, you are considered to be in a “vulnerable" group. We therefore urge you to discuss school attendance with your allocated worker/Social Worker.

 

Learners eligible for Free School Meals

Learners eligible for Free School Meals do not necessarily qualify for the care provision automatically (please refer to the above definition regarding eligibility).

We will put in place short-term measures to ensure the needs of Free School Meals learners can be met in a flexible way. From next week (week beginning 23.3.20) a lunch pack will be provided to all children/young people who are eligible for Free School Meals. In the short-term this will be provided at the child’s usual school and will be available for collection during the school’s usual lunch time.