Childcare during coronavirus

How to form a Childcare Bubble and what other forms of childcare are allowed during coronavirus.
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What childcare is allowed during Coronavirus?

Children over 5 can use registered childcare, childminders, wraparound care and other supervised children’s activities indoors where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents or carers to:

  • work
  • seek work
  • attend education
  • seek medical care or attend a support group

Vulnerable children can attend these settings regardless of circumstance as can those eligible for Free School Meals so that they can attend those that are part of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) running over the Easter holidays.

Children under 5 can continue to access childcare in all circumstances.

All children can now access outdoor supervised activities for children regardless of need.

Parent and child groups are permitted outdoors, with restrictions on numbers attending. See the parent and child groups section of this guidance.

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

  • early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) are open
  • parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This must not be used to enable socialising between adults
  • some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, including all those with a child under the age of one
  • nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home

Meeting others for childcare

People can continue to gather indoors or in larger groups outdoors where this is reasonably necessary:

  • for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children, see further information on education and childcare
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services

Childcare Bubbles

If you have a child or children aged 13 or under, you can form a ‘childcare bubble’ which allows friends or family from outside your household to provide informal childcare.

A childcare bubble is where two households join to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 or under. ‘Informal’ childcare is unpaid and unregistered and can be provided in either of the households homes or in any location – public or private, indoors or outdoors.

You can only use a childcare bubble for childcare i.e. where the child’s parent or regular carer is not present. You cannot use a childcare bubble to mix socially with another household.

All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement.

You can start a childcare bubble with another household whenever you want but, from Thursday 5 November, you cannot change you bubble.

The childcare bubble only continues while there are children aged 13 or under within that bubble. Once all children in a household are 14 or above, the childcare bubble arrangement must stop.

If possible, try to form a childcare bubble with a household that lives locally. This will help to prevent the virus spreading from an area where a higher number of people are infected with COVID-19. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are also advised not to form childcare bubbles during the period of national restrictions.

If someone in your childcare bubble develops coronavirus symptoms or tests positive

If anyone in your childcare bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, then the whole bubble mut follow the stay at home guidance.

If you share custody of your child, and you and your child’s other parent are in separate childcare bubbles, members of both bubbles should stay at home if someone develops symptoms.

This is critical to controlling the virus, as it will help to stop it spreading across multiple households.

If NHS Test and Trace contacts you or someone in your childcare bubble, you must follow their guidance.

Parent and child groups

The rules on whether you can meet indoors depend on the main purpose of the meeting.

Parent and child groups can take place outdoors if they are for the benefit of children aged under 5 and organised by a business, charity or public body. This includes groups that are primarily focused on social and developmental activities (such as art classes).

Parent and child groups can only take place in outdoor spaces, and must not take place in private gardens or homes, or in venues that are otherwise required to close.

Parent and child groups must be limited to no more than 15 attendees. Children under five and anyone working as part of the group are not counted in this number.

Support groups which provide support functions for parents, carers, or their children

Support groups which provide support functions for parents, carers, or their children, such as breastfeeding, postnatal, and baby and toddler groups which have to be delivered in person may continue to meet indoors, but must follow the same rules as other support groups. See the support groups section of this guidance.

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