HEADLINE NEWS... WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL
Rascals is focussed on providing the highest quality childcare in a safe environment. However, we must now also consider the need for us to continue to provide our services so parents in essential roles can continue the fight against Coronavirus.
We received news at 6:10pm this evening that the Dept. of Health is not intending to issue a closure notice on private nurseries. A little more clarity, but not as much information as we really needed. I am sure there is more to come.
We have to assume then that it's business as usual until we hear otherwise or our staff numbers drop to unsustainable numbers. As we have 7 nurseries in NI and a marvellous team of over 230 it is hoped that we can keep our services open throughout this crisis.
So please spread the news that we can, and will, provide our outstanding service to everyone, but especially anyone working in hospitals, other emergency services and anyone continuing to provide essential services to our ailing communities. Obviously, we also need our existing parents to support us at this time if you are inclined and financially able to do so.
In fact, a general shout out to everyone to support your local nursery, as we need our sector to remain as strong as possible so we can return stronger post COVID-19.
We are very aware that the nurseries are still susceptible to this virus and we will be operating outside of advice given by PHA, i.e. social distancing. Parents need to take a personal decision as to these risks and act accordingly. If we do have a proven case, we will close individual nurseries while a deep clean is undertaken for a minimum of 2 days. We do have the option to offer services in another branch.
We have increased our cleaning schedules and ask that only 1 person drops or collects a child from nursery and that the child is left at the room door.
You must not send your child to nursery if you have an actual or suspected case in your household. Please do not send anyone from a vulnerable group to drop off or collect children, e.g. older grandparents, people with underlying health problems, etc. This is for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.
We will not force anyone to work. Our staffs’ health is of paramount importance to us. However, it is important that any of our staff that attend work do so on the understanding that they may be putting themselves in increased danger of catching the virus. All staff attending work must seriously consider their personal and their family's health before coming to work. Please put your health before money worries.
Regarding pay, we will be paying everyone for hours worked and any statutory payments due as normal at the end of the month. We are awaiting information from HMRC about how we handle various scenarios and would ask for your patience at this time. Please be assured we are doing everything in our power to do the legal and morally right thing at the moment, but I am sure you appreciate it is very difficult to predict what government help the sector is going to get.
We are assured that a major announcement about employee support is going to be made tomorrow by the chancellor and we will report more on that once we have the facts.
Regulations and Standards
Our understanding is that the Minimum Standards remain in force and we will undertake to keep to ratios, space standards etc. We may however, and with a current consultation in mind, mix some age groups to ensure we have the correct staff to child ratios. This will be done only after a nursery manager has made a professional judgment and a risk assessment has been undertaken.
If staff have to go off work ,due to confirmed or suspected illness, we are considering offering temporary contracts to local vetted classroom assistants, primary and Pre-school teachers. It is our intention that they will get a basic induction and will be constantly paired off with a member of our staff. Anyone interested in applying should send a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org - ONLY VETTED EXPERIENCED STAFF WILL BE CONSIDERED. If you are considering applying, please make your own enquiries regarding any other payments you may be receiving and tax implications
We have no announcements regarding government help with costs other than rates relief which accounts for less than 2% of our normal fees. In the event that we find ourselves with excess funds, we will firstly ensure our staff are taken care of and then possibly offer free care to loyal parents in lieu of perceived overpayments.
Fees as published are payable as normal. Our normal DD system is suspended and we are working on a replacement, but to give you advance notice, we may go old school and look at a method of weekly payment.
All parents' accounts are currently frozen. We have decided to suspend our notice period policy, so anyone who needs to go, can, but we are assuming it’s just a temporary situation. All deposits are retained for your eventual return. All advance TFC and CCV payments are safe and will be deducted from your next invoice, be that in a week or 6 months.
Please be assured that every financial decision is designed to ensure we can take care of our staff and to ensure we can come back strong to serve our communities.
Any parent that is currently booked in for standard days will be billed as normal for those days and your place is secure. We also offer a FlexiCare service which was, until today, priced at a premium for Ad Hoc childcare. From Monday 23rd, all half day and full day rates are cut to the same rate as published in our Fees lists. The hourly rate remains. This will allow access to parents who need occasional or emergency childcare. Call your chosen branch for details and availability.
Finally, we want to send our support and best wishes to all our colleagues in the sector. It’s a pretty awful time but we will come back stronger and wiser.
To our fantastic parents, either with us, or temporarily not attending, thank you so much for all the lovely messages received and we look forward to seeing you all very soon.
Lynne & Roger