Thank you Minister and good afternoon everyone,
We have over 50 Registered Nurseries and Playgroups and 75 Registered Childminders on the island at present and I would like to start by offering a huge thank you to all of those practitioners who work within the Childcare Sector on our island. Within our nurseries, playgroups and childminder settings we have a wonderful group of dedicated, caring and enthusiastic practitioners
As I’m sure you will appreciate with the advent of the Covid 19 Pandemic this has been an extremely challenging, emotional and worrying time for all childcare providers as well as for families and their children. We were all plunged into a new world without much warning and have had to adapt quickly and continue to adapt to an ever changing normal. A ‘new‘ normal!
Some providers have remained open throughout this time to care for the children of other key workers and are to be commended for being so flexible, resourceful and resilient in continually adapting the practice within their settings in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care.
Other providers have remained closed during this time for a variety of reasons. However, many of these settings have continued to keep in contact and maintain a relationship with the children and their families during this time through the power of technology.
For those pre-school children due to transition into school in September this would be the term for visits into school and for the staff of Nurseries, Playgroups and Childminders to meet up with teachers to carefully prepare for this transition. Many providers and schools have already started to do this remotely in a range of creative ways and this will continue over the summer term in order to continue to prepare your child for school.
At present we have 15 nurseries and one before and after school provider open and 35 childminders.
These providers have been supported during this time by the Early Years Advisory Team at the Department of Education, Sport and Culture and the Inspection Team from the Department of Health and Social Care’s Registration and Inspection Unit. This has included the development of a comprehensive guidance document to support those providers who are beginning to re-open and those who have remained open to gradually expand their provision. This is being followed up by a Webinar for the Childcare Sector hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday evening.
As you will have heard during the Chief Minister’s Press Conference last Thursday, childcare has opened up to the children of those parents working within the retail sector from today and will open to all children on Monday 15.
However, this does not mean that all children will be able to return on the 15 June. This would not be practical, safe or in the best interests of the staff or children in their care.
As we know all children are different and you may find that some children make the transition back into their setting more easily leaving their parents with a quick hug and a kiss whilst others may need more support. For some children being at home for such an extended period of time without their normal routines may mean they experience some anxiety on separating from their parents or indeed socialising with other adults or children.
We would like to ask parents to acknowledge and understand that this may mean that some children will be phased back into their childcare setting over a longer period of time but that this is with the best interests of their child and the staff in mind. Please work with your nursery, playgroup or childminder in order to ensure this process is as smooth and as seamless as possible.
The early years sector identifies that young children cannot be expected to physically distance from each other, and much of their early years development relies on the interactions and close connections with both adults and other children which is essential for their well-being and development. The emphasis for this age group is the grouping of children into smaller groups and a focus on enhanced hygiene routines and cleaning.
This meant a lot of planning and preparation behind the scenes by providers in order to ensure these protocols are in place.
I would also like to ask parents to support providers by keeping your children at home if they have a temperature or Covid like symptoms or to collect you child from their nursery, playgroup or childminder if they develop a temperature or fall ill when asked to do so by staff. If in doubt keep your child at home and call 111 if you need further help and support. This way we will ensure the safety of everyone and continue to make the remarkable progress we have on our island.
In conclusion, I would like to give a big shout out to all of those people working in our Nursery, Playgroups and Childminders, our Early Years Support heroes. We have an early year’s sector to be proud of. Thank you for everything you do for the children and families on our island.