Last reviewed 12 February 2021

Leading early years organisations are calling on the Government in England to follow the Welsh Government in making Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) for coronavirus testing available for all registered early years and childcare providers to use at home.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), the Early Years Alliance and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) are urging the Department for Education to prioritise mass asymptomatic testing for the early years workforce as part of the joint #ProtectEarlyYears campaign.

The Welsh Government has announced it will supply registered settings with LFDs and a small supply of PPE free of charge for asymptomatic testing at home twice a week. Testing is voluntary, but those who are eligible for tests are strongly encouraged to participate to further reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission.

Early years and childcare settings have been asked to remain open to all children during the latest national lockdown. However, unlike schools and maintained nursery schools, private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers in England have not been supplied with home-testing kits for asymptomatic testing. Instead, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have to access tests via community testing centres, which are often only open during working hours.

The sector is now urging the Government in England to follow the Welsh approach in rolling out home testing for early years and childcare providers as a more practical and accessible means of reducing transmission in settings.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at PACEY, said:

“We are delighted the Welsh Government, working with sector partners, has ensured that childminders, nurseries and pre-schools in Wales can now home test for Covid-19. It will be key to helping them to stay open safely and reassure their staff and families. We are at a loss why Government in England cannot do the same?”

“It remains impractical to expect practitioners to leave their job, to travel for a community test, whilst their nursery has to find other staff to care for children in their absence. And for childminders, who often work on their own, to only be able to go to a testing centre at the weekend or bring their childminded children with them. Extending the opening hours of community testing sites and giving practitioners priority access isn’t adequate when schools in England can use home tests.”