Business as usual: a few questions that we have been asked by providers

Can a provider tell a parent that they must choose to attend only one provision?

The Department for Education (DFE) guidance, What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term states, that in order to minimise risks, a parent/carer should consider sending their child to the same setting consistently and limit the number of different providers they access.’ 

It may be necessary for parents to use more than one provider to access the childcare that they need to enable them to work. For example, if a parent works all year round and they are using a term time only provider or where a small provider only opens for part of the week and the parents need the full week, they will need to attend more than one provider. 

There may be various reasons why parents opt for their child to attend more than one setting. We encourage providers to discuss this with families to see whether it is possible to reduce the number of settings the child attends. This would be beneficial in terms of infection control and would give greater consistency and continuity of education and care for their child. 

It is parental choice as to the number of providers that a parent chooses to use. Providers should not be telling parents that they can only attend one setting. 

Providers can have attendance at only their provision as their admissions criteria, but this is not something that Devon County Council (DCC) would recommend.  

Our setting has more demand for places than we have places available. How should we manage admissions?

The DFE has said that ‘settings should try to be as flexible as possible for parents and carers who work shifts or atypical hours and especially for parents and carers who are critical workers.’ They encourage settings that are experiencing high demand to prioritise children using the following criteria: 

  1. Vulnerable children (In Devon we include funded two-year olds in this priority group for admissions)
  2. Children of critical workers
  3. Three– and four-year-olds
  4. Younger age groups 

By applying the criteria above, you can identify which children should have a place. Through offering the full number of funded and bought hours that the family request you should have fewer children attending for longer hours and less chance of children attending other settings as well as your own.  

Do we still need to stay in bubbles?

No, however for children under the age of five, the guidance says that providers should try to ‘minimise mixing within settings. Settings are no longer required to keep children in small, consistent groups but can return to normal group sizes.  

Where early years settings are also caring for children over the age of 5, they should ensure they are also following guidance on Protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which includes guidance on group sizes. 

‘Mixed age groups’ should be in small consistent groups of no more than 15.

You should therefore continue with your risk assessments. 

You may want to contact your insurer to discuss your plans. 

Finally, please follow the government guidance. 

How should term time only providers complete the Attendance Register?

We have had several questions from term time only providers about how they should complete the Attendance Register.

Please complete it on your last day of term and then also complete it on the day after you close to show that you are closed.

You only need complete the register again once you reopen.

Please see the FAQs as they should help to answer any questions that you may have about the Attendance Register.