New proposals to help support vulnerable children and the children of key workers have been announced today.

Around £12 million has been provided for Emergency Childcare provision for key workers.

Education Minister, Peter Weir and Health Minister, Robin Swann today outlined the package of measures which is being developed including:

  • A bespoke Approved Home Childcarer Scheme aimed at enabling key workers to have their childcare needs met in their own homes;

  • Enhanced support for registered childminders who provide childcare for key workers and vulnerable children;

  • Support for registered daycare settings to remain open for key workers and vulnerable children in locations where key worker parents need them most and for those settings which have been forced to close;

  • Childcare advice and guidance for parents who are key workers, including a helpline; and

  • Advice and guidance for registered settings and providers.

Education Minister, Peter Weir said that in these unprecedented times it is essential that vulnerable children and those of key frontline staff can access safe and responsive support. He continued: “Our starting position remains unchanged. Where it is possible to do so, children should be cared for in their own homes.  Schools, pre-school education settings, registered daycare facilities and childminders should only be providing care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

“These new measures will sit alongside the support being provided by educational settings for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

“We want to thank all providers for the work they do to support children and parents. Your continued support and commitment at this critical time will be vital in helping us work together to deal with the challenges facing our society as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Registered childcare provision, pre-school education settings and schools are safe and nurturing environments for children. However, we must ensure that these settings are safe in current circumstances and are following public health advice.

“We acknowledge that a number of daycare and afterschool care settings have already closed, some in response to falling demand, insufficient staffing levels or difficulties in meeting public health guidance, particularly in relation to social distancing requirements.

“My Department, in collaboration with the Department of Education, has been working to develop proposals which will meet the needs of our key workers.  This includes support for parents, childminders and daycare settings.

“Now, more than ever we must support our Health and Social Care staff and other key workers who are on the frontline in our fight against Covid-19.”

Read the full announcement from Minister Swann and Minister Weir at www.education-ni.gov.uk

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