An innovative service which has provided childcare for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic draws to a close today.
With the return to schools and nurseries imminent, critical childcare and hub provision – introduced after the pandemic reached the isles earlier this year – is now ending.
The service was established on 16th March as a direct result of Covid-19.
Its aim was to support families and to allow key workers to continue delivering key services at a time when all other childcare provision was suspended.
Support was also provided to vulnerable children and families. Provision has run from 14 locations throughout the isles, including four childminders and two partner providers.
The council says over 250 children from around 112 families have attended during the time of the service’s operation. Over 140 members of SIC staff offered to work in the settings.
But the Scottish government has now given the green light for all childcare providers, including childminders, to reopen, meaning that parents now have access to the usual childcare services that are available throughout the isles.
Chairman of the SIC’s education and families committee George Smith said: “It is clear that without this service many families would have found the last few months even more difficult.”
He thanked staff who had worked “so hard to organise things,” as well as those who he said had “worked tirelessly to provide childcare for essential workers”.
He added: “I would also thank the childminders and partner providers for their work – it really has been a community effort.”
Meanwhile, the council has acknowledged that the “soft start” arrangements to support the full time return to schools may pose short-term challenges for working families.
Private childcare providers such as Hame fae Hame and Peerie Foxes are open, as are a number of childminders. Islesburgh Out of School will also open for full days next week.