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Work to support childcare providers during Covid pandemic

Education leaders in Liverpool have written to early years nurseries and childcare providers in the city to thank them for their work during the pandemic.  

Director of Children and Young People Services, Steve Reddy, and Cabinet member for education, Cllr Barbara Murray, reveal that providers may be eligible to apply for upcoming local grants to help pay for the additional costs of dealing with Covid.

They also urge them to encourage their staff to get regular Covid tests at the city’s symptom-free test centres, and explain that the council is lobbying for the early years workforce to be vaccinated.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Early Years Provider,  

We wanted to write again to formally express our thanks to you and your teams for your continued support and hard work during the pandemic. We know that childcare workers are going above and beyond to help Liverpool respond. 

We know this new lockdown provides additional challenges to the sector, particularly when infection rates are still very high.   We are also aware of the financial pressures you are experiencing due to a combination of staff/child isolation, reduction in take up and rising PPE costs.     

Support from our Early Years Team  

Our Early Years Team are working hard to keep you updated with the ever-changing landscape, new guidance and opportunities for financial assistance/support.  The Team continue to offer advice regarding the management of Covid-19 and we know this is being well used (telephone 0151 233 0495 / email EarlyYearsCovid@liverpool.gov.uk   The Quality Improvement Team are also meeting virtually  with nurseries/pre-schools to offer support, and will be focusing on supporting manager and staff well-being this term. 

Financial Support 

In addition to the Government’s financial support during the pandemic, we facilitated a Covid-19 EY Open Initiative Grant scheme in May 2020, and in autumn 2020 we provided an additional £800,000 to support those settings, whose headcount was significantly less than in autumn 2019. We continue to work with colleagues across the Council and region to lobby for and secure further financial assistance for the sector.  

I am pleased to be able to inform you that Liverpool City Region will be launching a further round of grants to support businesses imminently.  All businesses from any sector will be eligible to apply, including childcare.  We expect it to get under way soon and we will email you the link to the application when it is live. The grant available will be between £3,750 and £13,500, dependent on the size of business applying.  To be eligible you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have lost 40% or more of your expected income due to Covid-19.  Early years settings that do not qualify will be able to apply for a  smaller grant scheme ring-fenced only for the early years sector, which we aim to launch after the city region grant scheme is awarded. 

Lateral Flow / Key worker Testing and Vaccination 

To support the essential work the sector is doing, we have ensured our symptom-free Covid-19 flow test sites are prioritising frontline childcare workers, and we would encourage your staff to use them. You can find the list of centres at https://liverpool.gov.uk/smarttesting   We are pushing for the use of home testing lateral flow tests to be extended to the early years sector, but currently there isn’t a mechanism for ordering kits outside of the current groups defined by the government. 

With regard to vaccinations, we have been collating personal information from you and are campaigning for the early years workforce to be vaccinated locally.  We are not in a position to confirm timescales at this moment but will let you know more information when we have it. 

We continue to raise the key issues challenging the early years sector with relevant government departments to try to inform  and shape future decisions  and guidance.   If you have any queries, please email the EarlyYears@liverpool.gov.uk and the team will respond.  

Once again, a huge thank you for the vital services you provide for our city’s children and families.  

Yours sincerely,  

Steve Reddy – Director of Children and Young People Services

Cllr Barbara Murray – Cabinet member for education