As businesses across North Lincolnshire continue to reopen and renew safely following the easing of coronavirus measures, parents and carers with children aged two, three and four are being encouraged to act now and secure funded childcare places in time for September.
Plenty of places are available across the area and childcare operators have worked closely with public health officials to ensure measures are in place so children, parents and staff remain safe while fun and stimulating environments can still be delivered.
Public health bosses have issued reassurance that early education providers in North Lincolnshire are following strict national rules and guidance to ensure children are safe.
This includes enhanced cleaning procedures, small group sizes and risk assessments to ensure everybody’s safety.
All three and four-year-olds are entitled to up to 15 hours per week of funded early education for 38 weeks of the year, while families which meet an eligibility criteria may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week.
Parents or carers of two-year-old children who meet any of a range of criteria are also eligible for 15 hours per week of funded childcare for 38 weeks of the year.
And parents are now being urged to take advantage of the funding available to them by signing up for the childcare places.
The North Lincolnshire Health and Wellbeing Board has teamed up with Scunthorpe Live for the Stop Covid, Prevent Local Outbreaks campaign, which urges everybody to do their bit to help keep the spread of coronavirus under control in the region.
North Lincolnshire remains one the areas with the lowest transmission rates in the UK and the seven-day infection average per 100,000 population up to August 15 for the area was 1.2.
Quality early education has been proven to help children learn through play, to socialise and make new friends, experience new activities and prepare for school – and there are many open for business across our area.
Penny Spring, director of public health for North Lincolnshire, said: “It is important that our children continue to get the best start in life and take advantage of a funded early education place as it can make a real difference to their education and social skills.
“We want to reassure parents that early education providers are following strict national advice and guidance to ensure the children are safe and protected.
“These include regular cleaning routines, risk assessments and small group sizes.
“Children will regularly clean their hands and have good hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.”
In North Lincolnshire, there are a total of 208 childcare providers, which includes 94 childminders, 56 full day care services, 37 maintained nursery schools and classes, five sessional care services and 16 out-of-school clubs.
Many early education providers have remained open for children of key workers throughout the pandemic and have worked in partnership with families to ensure their safety.
Amanda Foley, of Amanda’s Childcare in South Killingholme, said: “We have been open for much of the lockdown period and cared for families and key workers.
“It has been lovely to welcome back more families from June 1.
“We have lots of measures in place to keep children safe like extra cleaning and staggered drop off and collections, as well as lots of fun activities with the children reinforcing the need to wash our hands.
“The children have come back into the setting like they have never been away.”
A parent of a child who attends Amanda’s Childcare said: “We couldn’t be happier with the setting.
“For young children, the pandemic itself has presented a very new, very challenging way of life that is difficult for them to understand.
“Our child’s wellbeing – both academically and emotionally – is taken care of at Amanda’s and he always comes home happy.”