Council puts aside £1.47m for childcare providers hit by lockdown
PUBLISHED: 16:28 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:28 15 May 2020
A support package totalling £1.47m has been put aside for childcare providers in Norfolk who have been hit by the coronavirus lockdown.
Norfolk County Council announced on Friday, May 15, that funds would be put aside to support nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in the county.
Up to £850,000 of funding is being made available for the summer school term to support early years providers which have remained open to provide childcare to critical workers and vulnerable children.
The funds are expected to alleviate financial struggles of those affected by Covid-19 restrictions.
A further £600,000 is available to support all providers as children return and the sector begins to recover from lockdown.
Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, John Fisher, said: “We have been working hard throughout this emergency to support nurseries, pre-schools and childminders. They look after our youngest children and have played an essential role in keeping vital services running.
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“Many providers are small businesses and we know Covid-19 has hit some of them hard financially. We’ve been giving them advice and support to access the government support that’s available and are pleased we can now set up this extra fund.”
The £1.47m package became available as a result of parental entitlements for early years Dedicated Schools Grant monies which have gone unclaimed due to the pandemic, alongside amended government rules about how the funds can be spent.
“It’s crucial we support [childcare providers], so that key workers can continue to work and also ensure there are sufficient childcare places throughout the county, as we begin to recover from the pandemic,” councillor Fisher added.
Early years settings have been struggling as many parents pay privately for childcare, and settings are only open to vulnerable children or the children of critical workers.
In the last week a total 1,297 critical worker children and 198 vulnerable children attended placements at 378 providers.
Childminders and nurseries can welcome back all children from June 1, though attendance is expected to begin low and gradually increase into autumn.
Managers of settings and childminders who have concerns can contact the Early Years’ Service at Norfolk County Council on 0344 800 8020 or email EarlyYearsChildcare@norfolk.gov.uk.
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