Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

Why can more children now attend school and childcare settings? 

The government wants to get all children back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows. We know it is the best place for children to learn, and because we know that the early years has a huge impact on a child's future.

Will my child be safe?

There is scientific evidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus. The numbers returning will be lower than normal, which reduces the risk of infection. Early Year's providers will also be making changes to how they are organised and will put measures in place to reduce risks.

The government guidance explains what providers can do to reduce the risk of transmission, and they will share their plans with you once they have finalised the details.

Should I keep my child at home if they have an underlying health condition or live with someone who is shielding or in a clinically vulnerable group?

From 1 August the Government will pause shielding unless the transmission of Covid-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. Further information can be found on the government website.

I usually pay my child's setting for some of the time they are there. If I don't feel comfortable send my child back, will I still be charged for their place?

This will depend on a range of factors and is a decision for each individual provider. Parents are encouraged, where there are no underlying health issues, to return their children to their childcare setting. Providers continue to have business costs to meet and so may decide that in order to continue offering a place, some or all of the fees may be applied.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in my child’s childcare setting?

There will be a robust risk assessment in place, in line with government guidance, that sets out the next steps if this happens. Your setting should be able to share this with you if you ask.

Staff and children over 5 in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households.

Test kits are unsuitable for under-fives. Call 111 if you’re worried about a baby or child. If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 999. Do not delay getting help if you’re worried. Trust your instincts. Further information on the NHS guidance

My provider is not opening at their usual times and cannot offer me the hours and days that I was previously attending. Can I move my child to a setting that can offer me what I need?

All providers are being encouraged to offer places to priority groups and, as part of their risk assessments to ensure safety for the children, the staff and yourselves. They may have to operate at a reduced level initially to manage this. Depending on the size of the setting, it may not be possible to offer places to everyone but talk to your provider to understand their decisions.

I am worried about how my child will react on returning to the setting, will I be able to take them in to settle them?

The advice on social distancing for adults remains the same, so it may not be possible for parents to go into the setting. You should talk to your provider and share your concerns. Early years practitioners are very creative in their approach to supporting children and will have thought about the best way to manage these situations to ensure the children's happiness and well-being.

I am a key worker and have been sending my child to a new provider whilst my original setting has been closed, using my early education funded hours. Can I move my child back to their original setting when it re-opens, and will I have to give 4 weeks' notice to the current setting?

It will be up to you to consider the impact of moving your child, especially if they are due to start school in September. It would be best to contact your original provider to ensure that they can offer you the hours that you need.

If you choose to return your child to their original setting, you will not be required to give notice on the funded hours you use.

You should consider the impact of moving your child, especially if they are due to start school or have special educational needs or a disability.

Do I still need to renew my 30hr code and tax-free childcare?

Yes, do so in the same way as you would normally by logging into your account at  www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.

The Government has also announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if their income changes due to COVID-19. See here for further information on these changes.

In addition, the 30 hours deadline for the summer term has been extended to the 31 August to give working parents additional time to protect their place.

Which childcare providers are open?

Find childcare in Portsmouth. Individual childcare providers are making decisions about when to open and how many places to offer. If you are unable to find a suitable place please email us at eyfunding@portsmouthcc.gov.uk for support from our outreach officers.