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Council provides free childcare to almost 500 children over Easter holidays

Critical workers leading the fight against coronavirus were able to take advantage of free childcare provided by Swindon Borough Council over the Easter holidays.

Published: Friday, 24th April 2020
Childcare needs survey

In total, 476 children benefitted from up to 30 hours each of funded childcare from the Council allowing their parents or carers to carry out vital work during the current COVID-19 crisis.

It was another measure in the Council’s #HereForSwindon package of support aimed at helping residents and businesses through the public health emergency.

The Council provided funding to childcare providers to enable them to stay open when they were needed most, while at the same time keeping childcare staff in employment.

Free childcare will also be provided to key workers by the Council for the forthcoming May half-term.

One nursery, the Nursery of Narnia in Stratton, has been offering 24/7childcare for key workers who may work night shifts.

Jane Brown, Manager of Nursery of Narnia, said: “Our primary focus at Nursery of Narnia is to provide a safe, fun and stimulating environment for children to learn. When the lockdown came into effect, we moved quickly to ensure we could continue to provide a service for new and existing families to enable them to do their essential jobs as key workers.

“Many of the parents we are supporting work for the NHS as well as other sectors that are crucial in the battle against coronavirus. We have changed our opening hours to facilitate our shift-working families and this has been very well received. We are now open 24/7 and were open over the bank holiday weekend, caring for children from all age groups and social backgrounds.

“The free childcare provided by the Council over the Easter holidays has been a huge help for all the families who have used our service over the last fortnight. The brokerage service that the borough put in place has helped families to find suitable childcare and enabled us to welcome new families to the nursery.

“Our wonderful team of staff have gone above and beyond, working any shifts they are asked to work with a smile on their faces, making the time even more enjoyable for the children during these challenging times.”

Parents who are classed as key workers and who have not been able to secure childcare to allow them to carry out their critical roles should get in touch with the Council’s Education and Childcare teams as soon as possible.

As long as one parent is classed as a key worker under the Government definition the family qualifies for childcare through local schools and other local providers.

However, children should be cared for at home wherever possible to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Education, said: “On behalf of everyone in Swindon, I am very grateful for the incredible efforts by our key workers who are working so hard at this challenging time. I am really pleased we were able to provide some help with childcare.

“Our schools and childcare providers have also been fantastic in providing suitable, safe provision for children in Swindon. We will be providing free childcare again during the May half-term school holiday and we would encourage any key workers who still need childcare to contact our Education and Childcare teams, who can help them make the necessary arrangements.”

Any parents are not in a position to be able to safely leave their children at home should email the Council at: earlyeducation@swindon.gov.uk

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