Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice about childcare

Access to childcare is currently (since 29 June 2020) available to any parent who needs it.

Formal childcare

If you need access to formal childcare:

  • check the Family Support NI website for information on available spaces 
  • if you cannot find a suitable option please call Parentline on: 0808 8020 400

Informal childcare

Informal childcare is valuable, trusted care provided by grandparents and close family. It is not to be confused with unregistered childcare, which is provided by those who are not formally registered but who charge a fee for their services. 

It is the commercial aspect of unregistered provision that distinguishes it from informal childcare. Operating as a childcare provider for reward without being registered with the local Health and Social Care Trust constitutes unregistered childcare and is not permitted under the Children (NI) Order 1995.

The restrictions introduced across Northern Ireland on 22 September 2020 permit both formal and informal childcare.

Other sources of support

Parents should continue to check the Family Support NI website for up-to-date information about childcare.

Employers For Childcare Family Benefits Advice Service has free, confidential and impartial advice setting out your best options for financial support, and what is the best choice for your family depending on your specific circumstances. You can contact an advisor by freephone or email as follows:

COVID-19 advice

As a parent you will be anxious to know that your child will be safe and it is important to highlight that childcare settings remain safe places for children. 

The Department of Health continues to issue infection prevention and control guidance to all childcare providers. This guidance covers issues such as:

  • the need for group childcare providers (for exampe, daycare) to care for children in separate, consistently constituted groups
  • the need for effective ventilation and the use of outdoor space where possible
  • PPE
  • Testing, Tracking and Tracing
  • dealing with children who display COVID-19 symptoms 
  • self-isolation in the event that any child or staff member tests COVID-19 positive

All of this guidance is available on the Family Support NI website.

It is vitally important that your childcare provider is informed if you, your child or any other family member has tested positive for COVID-19.

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