Petition Provide support for on going childcare payments during closures due to Covid-19

Childcare providers following the government guidance to close because of concerns around Covid-19 are still charging parents full monthly fees. For working parents this is putting an enormous financial burden on them while they look to provide full time childcare whilst maintaining full time jobs.

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Consider self employed parents who will be unable to work and maintain full time childcare. Nurseries should have adequate cash reserves or insurance to cover these periods rather than put the financial burden on parents or risk losing their child’s nursery place. Can the States offer backing to parents to elevate some of this pressure during an already stressful time?

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 20 April 2020

The Minister for Education recognises parent and carer concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on childcare provision. Childcare providers can apply for a range of Government support measures.

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The Minister for Education recognises that many parents and carers are deeply concerned about a wide range of issues relating to the impact COVID-19 is having on the provision of childcare, including the different approaches among the private nurseries to payment of fees.

The childcare industry makes an essential contribution to delivering positive early childhood outcomes, as well as to the community and economy in Jersey more widely. It provides a much-needed service for families and children and the Government is committed to doing all it can to ensure that parents and carers will be able to access the services it provides, once COVID 19 restrictions have been lifted.

Private childcare providers have their own contractual relationships with parents which are independent of the Minister for Education.

The Minister is responsible for regulation, inspection and standards under the Daycare of Children (Jersey) Law 2002.

The Government provided Nursery Education Fund (NEF) enables all children in the school year that they turn four years old, to receive funding for up to 20 hours each week for 38 weeks, during school term time. NEF payments are made to providers who care for and educate eligible children, termly in advance. The scheduled summer term payments have been made to all eligible providers.
The daycare of all younger children and any daycare provided during school holidays is through private contractual relationships between parents and providers.

As well as acting in good faith and making the summer term NEF payments, the Government has announced a suite of additional business support measures to help preserve as many Islanders’ jobs as possible and maintain key economic infrastructure during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The aim is to make sure the Island can navigate the health emergency and be in a strong position to recover quickly once it is over.

There is a range of support measures that childcare providers are eligible to apply for:

• Business loans;
• Support from Jersey Business;
• Co- payroll funding (phase 2); and
• Deferral of Social Security contributions.

For providers who rent premises from the Government, deferred rental payments are also possible, by negotiation.

The Minister’s officials have maintained a regular dialogue with the Jersey Early Years Association (JEYA) which represents all private nurseries. This will continue.

The Minister believes the best way to support parents, their children and the Childcare sector is through the Summer Term payment of the Nursery Education Fund, combined with access to Government-backed business support measures detailed above.

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly

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