The past couple of weeks has been a busy time and an often very confusing one . . . . . to say the least.
The Government has published many dozens of Guides for all areas of industry and commerce and many apply to us. The most recent specialist Guide is this one:
It establishes our modus operandi until further notice and is very specific in some of its demands. It is also quite woolly in some areas too, which means that we have to fill in some of the gaps as best we can. I think we, that is Rachel, the Trustees and the Management Committee, have done pretty well so far in such a rapidly changing climate. There have been evenings in the past fortnight where emails, phone texts and WhatsApp messages have been whizzing around the ether at dizzying speed!
I must put the Nursery into some commercial context:
- as a charity we are obliged to meet all the requirements of the Charity commission and the Trustees have very clear and sometimes onerous responsibilities in this respect.
- We are registered by Ofsted, so have to comply with the laws that apply to Early Years settings
- We have a contract with KCC and are beholden to them for many things but principally our Funding for 3 and 4 year olds (and some 2 year olds) which we receive from them each term to partially cover those free hours we pass on to parents as Universal (15 hours) and Extended (30 hours) entitlements.
- And we have to comply with all the usual rules, regulations and laws that businesses have to
So, if our reaction to events seems somewhat tardy on occasion you’ll know why!
The Nursery is currently open to ensure that keyworkers have somewhere safe to leave their children when they go off to work. We immediately think of doctors and nurses and other emergency services and maybe the support staff needed to keep them working effectively. But who cleans the hospital wards? Who supplies all the bandages, masks and the thousands of other items needed? Who maintains the equipment? How do they get to work? And so on. The point is, it’s not easy to define a keyworker and boy, are we aware of that! But, I can tell you that all of our parents have taken the view that their health, their family’s health and that of our staff and the children they look after is the most important factor when taking decisions about their working practices during this crisis. We have 60 children on our roll. 3 children are in the Nursery today.
Everyone has been invoiced for the whole of March and most have paid (thank you). Most children will not have attended since the 20th, but we will be paying all the staff their full salary for the month, so, if possible, we would prefer not to raise credit notes and pay refunds to parents. However, I know that some of you have been knocked sideways by the crisis, so if you cannot afford to take this generous approach please let me know; email me with your request and your bank details.
Childcare arrangements and fees from April
If your child cannot attend Nursery then we will not be charging a fee. Your child’s place will be available when we reopen fully.
Many of our parents have asked us to continue invoicing them at 50% of their normal rate and for this, we are very grateful. Yes, we hope to be taking advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and KCC have said we can keep all the funding for the Summer Term, but this will still ‘leave us short’. So your continuing financial support will be very welcome. I will prepare and send out these invoices in the next few days.
If you are a keyworker, I hope you know by now that, you are very welcome to bring your child to Nursery if he or she is not able to be cared for safely at home (provided, of course, that we’ve received confirmation from your employer). We know that your rotas are likely to change and change again over the coming weeks, but if you could let us know by Friday of each week if and when your child will be attending the following week, that would help us enormously. Otherwise please give us as much notice as possible (at least 24 hours). Just call the Nursery or email Rachel: firstname.lastname@example.org
As regards fees, we will raise an invoice at the end of the month for days attended unless you would prefer us to invoice you as normal for your child’s normal days. Yes, I’m being cheeky, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Easter Club has been cancelled. Spring Club at the end of May is extremely doubtful. I would expect Summer Club (from 23rd July) to go ahead, but we’ll confirm this nearer the time.
And when the crisis is over?
We’ll be here! We are aiming to re-open as soon as we can with all the same familiar faces in the same (increasingly) familiar building.