Childcare and COVID-19
Keeping childcare and childminding services open during the COVID-19 public health emergency is a Government priority in line with public health advice. You can read more about the Government’s plan for living with COVID-19.
You can also read about support services for families during COVID-19.
Childcare services are currently open for vulnerable children and children of essential workers.
If you are an essential worker and accessing childcare, you can use any ECCE entitlement that your child may normally have to supplement this provision
On 8 March 2021, the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme will reopen for all participating children.
On 29 March 2021, childcare services will open to all other children, subject to public health advice.
Childcare providers have been asked to waive fees for parents not using a service in return for special funding during the restrictions up to 26 March 2021. There are special financial supports for childcare providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Government has published FAQs for parents of children in early learning and care and childcare services (pdf) including details on vulnerable children and essential workers.
Changes in childcare settings
Children are grouped in ‘play pods’ which allows them to learn and play in small groups.
The play pods –sometimes called bubbles - allows positive interactions between your child and caregivers, limits the number of people your child has contact with and helps with contact tracing.
Children do not have to wear masks or be cared for by adults wearing masks. Adults in childcare settings only wear them when interacting with other parents or staff.
If your child becomes unwell
Your child should not attend childcare if your child or a member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19. You should keep your child at home and contact your GP.
If your child becomes unwell, such as with a runny nose, you should observe them at home for 48 hours, to assess whether any further symptoms develop. Any symptoms of concern should be discussed with your GP.
If your child is in childcare and displays symptoms of COVID-19, your childcare provider will arrange for them to be collected and will advise you to contact your GP.
Drop off and pick up
Drop offs and collections are organised to maintain distance between adults and between children from different play-pods.
When you drop off and collect your child from childcare, you should keep physical distance from other parents and staff and between children in different ‘play pods’.
If you must enter the childcare service, such as to settle your child into a new place, you should keep physical distance with other adults where possible. You can use a mask if it is not possible to keep your distance from other adults.
Other changes and further information
Your child must not bring toys from home, but can bring a comfort toy to help them fall asleep. If possible you should bring a duplicate comfort toy to the childcare setting.
You can find more information about returning to childcare and preparing your child for pre-school on the Let’s get ready website. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has some useful advice in its COVID-19 isolation quick guide for young children (pdf).
If you are having difficulty with your childcare provider or finding a childcare place you can contact the local County Childcare Committee.