New proposals have been announced today to provide financial assistance for Covid-19 related closures in the childcare sector between September and December last year.
Education Minister, Peter Weir outlined the plans following the allocation of a total of £3.64 million for childcare providers who have temporarily closed during the period 1 September to 31 December 2020.
Childcare providers located on schools estate who were unable to operate during the extended school mid-term break in October will also be eligible to apply for support under this scheme.
Peter Weir said: “It is important that registered childcare providers offer safe and nurturing environments for children and will not be disadvantaged by Covid-19 related issues that have caused them to close either fully or in the case of a setting, having to close a pod/group. As part of ongoing childcare recovery, the Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund will provide a financial contribution towards the loss of income as a result of the Covid-19 related closures and for those providers unable to operate due to school closures during the extended half-term break in October.
“I also recognise that this is a financially difficult time for many parents, and therefore one of the objectives of this funding support is to ensure that childcare providers do not charge parents while their provision is temporarily closed due to Covid-19 cases. This will be a condition of funding.
“It is essential that we continue to work together across the education and health sectors to ensure the availability of childcare provision and to support the economy, while at the same time ensuring parents can access safe and responsive care.
“I want to again thank registered childcare providers for the essential work they do. Their hard work on the ground and determination to maintain services at this critical time is vital in helping us deal with the ongoing challenges facing society as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.”