Early years carers rise to the challenge in Southend

Childminders and nurseries have been praised by Southend-Council’s early year’s team for helping provide 7-day-a-week care to vulnerable children and children of key workers.

More than 80 families have been helped as the early year’s team sprang into action, finding emergency childcare spaces for all of families who requested it and had a genuine need.

As well as nursery places for pre-school children, childminders across the borough have been providing flexible care, covering shift work for key workers, including picking up and dropping off at schools.

Families who need emergency childcare are speaking to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s early year’s team, who are then placing the children in the most appropriate setting.

Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “I am so impressed with the loyalty, passion and commitment of the childminders, nurseries and the early year’s team. They have worked well together to make sure vulnerable children and the children of key workers are well looked after during these unprecedented times.

“Childminders and nursery staff have volunteered to be on a supply list and many providers have gone above and beyond to provide places, while making sure the children feel safe and cared for and the parents reassured.

“Our early year’s team had everything in place and ready to go by the time the Prime Minister announced the closure of schools and nursery settings. They had the foresight to start making plans, do risk assessments and monitor the demand and capacity to ensure a smooth transition and as little stress as possible for the parents.

“I want to say thank you to all involved in providing such a good service and helping to keep the children of our key workers, and vulnerable children safe during this crisis.”

Lynda Bartholomew, manager of Ladybird Nursery in Cardigan Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea, explains they have been as flexible as possible in order to provide childcare for NHS workers.

She said: “This is our job. It’s what we are set up to do and I’m very proud that I have a team of staff who want to carry on doing their job. As we are on the hospital site, we’ve always been proud of our association with Southend Hospital and the NHS. But I think now more than ever before the importance of the jobs our parents are doing is being realised.

“We are looking after children aged four weeks old to four years old and the gratitude from their parents is unbelievable, when actually we’re the ones who are grateful. We are keeping their children safe and entertained, so they can concentrate on caring for those in hospital. What we are doing is nothing in comparison.”

The early year’s team have also been flooded with positive comments and praise from parents for helping to arrange the childcare.

If you are a key worker, and unable to work from home, are a single parent or have a partner who is self-isolating and need emergency childcare, please email [email protected]

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]