Health Minister Robin Swann has today published details of a new bespoke home childcare scheme to meet the childcare needs of keyworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister said: “I have been very clear in my message that staying at home will save lives. I am very aware that keyworkers are faced with the challenges of juggling their essential business with looking after those most precious to them. This new scheme is intended to help keyworkers have their children looked after in their own home as much as possible.”
Outlining who the scheme is open to, the Minister said: “The scheme will support those who are on the frontline in our fight against COVID-19. It is open to the key workers who are providing clinical care to coronavirus patients; health and social care workers who are supporting life-threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; and all the other health and social care workers, and wider public sector workers who provide critical services.”
The Minister added: “Daycare providers have agreed to work with us to make that possible and I want to thank them for that. Parents should speak to their provider as quickly as possible to get the approval process underway.”
Under the scheme, children of keyworkers will be temporarily matched with one daycare worker from the setting that they currently attend. The scheme will prioritise the needs of key workers with babies and toddlers.
The Department of Health will monitor demand and make any changes necessary to ensure the childcare needs of critical workers are met, this may include prioritising the needs of some key worker groups. The Department is also developing other childcare options for keyworkers.
The Home Childcare scheme will only be operational during the COVID-19 pandemic and the daycare workers involved in the scheme will return to their former roles within daycare settings when the scheme closes.