As part of our #HereForDerby series we talked to the Childcare and Families Information team (CFIT) about the support they’ve been giving following the closure of schools and childcare providers during the crisis.
The Childcare and Families Information team (CFIT) provide essential information, advice and guidance to families on childcare, early years education and the support services that are available to children and their parents across the city.
Provider enquires and request for support increased to unprecedented levels – said Heather Ryder-Carrington, CIFT team manager. “With the start of COVID lockdown and the initial closure of schools and childcare, other than for vulnerable children or children of keyworkers, CFIT had the important task of ensuring childcare providers remained financial viable and received their early education funding payment.
“Within hours of the closures being announced, the Families Information Service (FIS), a team within CFIT, built and went live with a bespoke online childcare directory, giving the latest information on what childcare was available and open in the city for vulnerable and keyworker’s children. All 327 childcare providers were personally contacted to check their availability and the directory was updated daily which enabled parents to self-service their childcare information needs at times that suited them.
“The FIS worked in partnership with the Children’s Centres to think of innovative ways they could keep supporting Derby’s children and their families remotely. Using FIS’s Facebook they posted free online content including virtual songs, stories and activities. This has proved very popular with video views reaching over 11,000.
“Accessing childcare during COVID has been crucial for vulnerable children and the children of the city’s keyworkers. Moving forward, childcare will be fundamental to the economic recovery of the city; people need to get back to work and will therefore need sufficient childcare open to achieve this.”
Throughout lockdown CFIT, in collaboration with the Early Years Quality Improvement Team, supported childcare providers with extensive daily bulletins and individual bespoke support to ensure that the sector were COVID safe and ready to reopen on the Monday 1st June in line with DfE guidance.
“We worked closely with the Business Rates and Regeneration teams to ensure that childcare providers received help and support in applying for funding and business support grants. In total the sector received funding in excess £508,000 which was desperately needed for their future sustainability.”
Heather explained: “The team has been amazing throughout the pandemic, working tirelessly to ensure that the service we provide has maintained its high standard, whilst dealing with the increased number of parents requesting childcare places, and the support given to the childcare providers.
“We are a close team and are used to working together, so working remotely has been a challenge but the team have shown how resilient they can be. I just want to say a big thank you to all of them!”
The Childcare and Families Information team provides advice to providers on claiming funding for two, three and four year olds and the Families Information Service can support families to:
- Find suitable childcare close to where they live or work
- Access free early education places – following a child’s third birthday; children are entitled to 15 hours’ free early learning a week. For some families, this will be increased up to 30 hours
- Check a family’s eligibility for a funded two year old childcare place – where eligible children can have up to 15hr funded childcare per week the term after their second birthday
- Find local before, after school and holiday childcare
- Find out about fun activities in the City as well as family support services.