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Ministers announce that childcare is available to all parents

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Ministers Robin Swann and Peter Weir have confirmed that the definition of key worker will no longer apply for access to childcare.

The announcement follows the recent publication of the Childcare Sector Recovery Plan.

Minister Swann said: “The key worker definition for childcare purposes will no longer apply. This will support the wider Executive decision-making around allowing people to return to work.

“Childcare policy continues to be developed in line with medical and scientific advice and with input from elected representatives, childcare sector representatives and parents.”

Education Minister Peter Weir said “This announcement will support more parents to access childcare. As schools begin to reopen it will be important to ensure that there is alignment between school restart plans and childcare provision so that the impact on working parents is kept to a minimum.”

Concluding, the Ministers said that the safety of children and staff in all settings was vital and a number of infection control measures have been put in place. Those measures include:

– Health and Social Care Trust Early Years Teams being part of decisions to reopen, assisted by the Public Health Agency;
– The introduction of Play Pods in registered group childcare settings – organising children and staff in small groups (12 children maximum), who don’t mix with other groups in the setting; and
– A gradual increase in the numbers of families childminders can provide childcare for, to a maximum of four families from today. It is intended that this will rise to five families in August.

Updated guidance has been issued directly to all registered childcare providers in Northern Ireland this afternoon. Copies of the guidance, and advice for parents who require childcare can be found at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-childcare-guidance.

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