Childcare and COVID-19
Childcare facilities for certain children reopened from 29 June 2020. Most remaining services reopened at end August and early September 2020. Childcare subsidies and childcare fees also restarted. However, fees should stay at their pre-COVID-19 rates, if your childcare provider is availing of the special supports to help them reopen. For more details - see ‘Reopening of childcare facilities’ below.
Keeping childcare and childminding services open during the COVID-19 public health emergency will be a Government priority in line with public health advice. You can read more about the Government’s plan for living with COVID-19.
You can also read about support services for families during COVID-19.
Reopening of childcare facilities
On 29 June 2020, childcare services reopened for essential or frontline workers and certain other children. Most remaining childcare services reopened at end August or early September 2020.
Childcare providers that reopen can get additional supports which include a July Jobs Stimulus Funding Package and Revenue’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). The EWSS replaced the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) from 1 September 2020. Childcare providers do not need to meet the EWSS 30% reduction in turnover test. Providers can also apply for a ‘sustainability fund’. Read more about the DCYA financial supports for childcare providers.
If a childcare provider avails of these supports they must keep fees at their pre-COVID-19 rates.
Subsidised childcare schemes
From 29 June 2020, the early learning and school age childcare programme restarted. These include:
- National Childcare Scheme (NCS) including the universal childcare subsidy
- Community Childcare Subvention (CCS)
- Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) schemes
The TEC Schemes are:
- After-School Child Care Scheme (ASCC)
- Community Employment Childcare (CEC) for Community Employment participants.
- Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS)
If you were on the CCS programme or one of the TEC schemes before the closures you will keep your place on the scheme, but you must continue to meet the eligibility criteria and return in (or before) September 2020.
You must re-register with your childcare provider for your childcare place when the 2020-2021 programme or scheme opens.
If you are no longer eligible for the CCS programme or TEC scheme, you may be eligible for the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).
If you are having difficulty with your childcare provider or finding a childcare place you can contact the local County Childcare Committee.
Changes in childcare settings
Children are grouped in ‘play pods’ which allows them to learn and play in small groups.
The play pods –sometimes called bubbles - allows positive interactions between your child and caregivers, limits the number of people your child has contact with and helps with contact tracing.
Children do not have to wear masks or be cared for by adults wearing masks. Adults in childcare settings only wear them when interacting with other parents or staff.
If your child becomes unwell
Your child should not attend childcare if your child or a member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19. You should keep your child at home and contact your GP.
If your child displays symptoms of COVID-19, your childcare provider will arrange for them to be collected and will advise you to contact your GP.
Drop off and pick up
Drop offs and collections are organised to maintain distance between adults and between children from different play-pods.
When you drop off and collect your child from childcare, you should keep physical distance from other parents and staff and between children in different ‘play pods’.
If you must enter the childcare service, such as to settle your child into a new place, you should keep physical distance with other adults where possible. You can use a mask if it is not possible to keep your distance from other adults.
Other changes and further information
Your child must not bring toys from home, but can bring a comfort toy to help them fall asleep. If possible you should bring a duplicate comfort toy to the childcare setting.
You can find more information about returning to childcare and preparing your child for pre-school on the Let’s get ready website. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has some useful advice in its COVID-19 isolation quick guide for young children (pdf).