Welwyn Garden City nursery stays open for children of key workers and vulnerable children

PUBLISHED: 17:07 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 04 May 2020

A display created by children to make NHS staff smile. Picture: Busy Bees

A display created by children to make NHS staff smile. Picture: Busy Bees

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A nursery in Welwyn Garden City is staying open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children during the COVID-19 crisis, despite not being financially viable.

Treats for key worker families to share with collegues. Picture: Busy BeesTreats for key worker families to share with collegues. Picture: Busy Bees

In its latest guidance the Department for Education outlines multiple instances in which nurseries will no longer be able to furlough staff, and will only be able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover a proportion of their pay bill.

The announcement follows weeks of uncertainty for the early years sector, with the original guidance stating providers could access both schemes without any restrictions – a move which led to many nurseries furloughing a large proportion of staff or closing temporarily on the basis that they could receive funding.

Despite the changes in guidance, Busy Bees, which operates Welwyn Garden City nursery, has kept this centre, and more than 100 others nationwide, open in order to continue providing crucial care, education and support for the children of key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

The childcare provider, which looks after over 55,000 children globally, has introduced flexible plans for its nurseries, including merging centres to ensure there is adequate provision in place in each community, so children can be cared for while their parents carry out vitally important roles.

The decision to keep its Welwyn Garden City nursery open, despite others closing their doors, will allow the childcare provider to support as many key worker families as possible throughout the crisis, as well as the 194 vulnerable children currently in its care.

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With growing speculation around how long the current lockdown restrictions will last, the Welwyn Garden City nursery will be accepting new enrolments for the children of key workers, vulnerable children or families struggling to find childcare provision over the coming months.

Marg Randles, Busy Bees’ founder and chief academic officer, said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought huge changes and challenges to everyone across the world, and while we continue to celebrate the incredible commitment of our NHS and key workers it is important to remember the part our dedicated nursery teams have to play in providing care, education and a little normality for children during these challenging times.

“For our Welwyn Garden City nursery, we wanted to play our part and as much as we were able, do the right thing for key worker parents and the local community. So, while many nurseries took the decision to close because of Coronavirus, we felt there was a bigger picture and a longer game to be played.

“There has been much comment about a lack of places at nurseries for the children of key workers and criticism where providers have taken the difficult decision to close. It is easy to understand the frustration felt by those who need childcare and cannot access it, but also for many providers in the sector, difficult decisions have had to be taken.

“For us, we wanted to be part of a solution by keeping our nurseries open, despite it not being commercially viable for many of these centres, and not create further problems for under-pressure key worker parents and the Government by completely shutting up shop.

“Our commitment to those key workers putting themselves at risk is to support them in the battle against this dreadful virus by continuing to provide high quality childcare and give their children the best start in life – whatever the circumstances.”

Busy Bees is providing flexible childcare options and will be accepting new enrolments for the children of key workers in Welwyn Garden City. To enquire about a place, please visit busybees.com/key-worker or email keyworker.enquiries@busybees.com.


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