Coronavirus: A letter to the tiney community

Brett Wigdortz OBE

Brett Wigdortz OBE, Chief Executive Officer

18 March 2020

A letter to the tiney community from Brett Wigdortz, tiney CEO and co-founder

I am writing to share an update on behalf of all of us at tiney as we navigate the difficult and ever-changing situation with Covid-19. It’s a tough time for everyone, but we want to do all we can to support you, your family and your business through it.

The first and most important message is that you and your family’s health are the top priorities in the coming weeks. This is the latest advice from the government, applicable to all education settings, on keeping your home nursery as clean and safe as possible.

If you do feel ill, please take sick leave and focus on getting better. Rest is rocket fuel, and we won’t be able to ensure children the world over get a great start in life without a healthy community.

While this is foremost a public health tragedy, we are already beginning to see that it could spell a period of financial uncertainty too.

Like all of us, you’re probably worrying about both the health and wellbeing of your loved ones and the practical matter of sustaining your living during uncertain times. We’d like to offer all the reassurance and support we can.

On the practical side, we are launching a £10,000 fund to divide among tiney home nurseries registered with us by the end of March. We will announce specific guidance on how this fund can be accessed by home leaders in the coming days. This is primarily so we don’t negatively impact any other benefits or subsidies the government may also announce for small businesses in the next 48 hours, and to maximise the benefit to you.

In terms of general support for you and your business, we would also like to invite you all to take part in a live community chat via video link this Thursday evening (19th March) at 8pm where members of the tiney team will be online to offer advice and support. This is the first time we’ve tried something like this and we’d love you to take part to keep us company! Check your tiney app for the link to join.

Remember that whatever happens, working families will still need childcare. Previous downturns have shown that it is one of the last purchases that families do without.

However, we know that childcare is currently in a state of flux, with the guidance from above changing every day - especially if you or your loved ones are unwell. Right now, childcare settings remain open unless they have specifically been affected by Covid-19. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating online at the moment but we are in contact with Ofsted and the Department for Education and will send you all of the latest updates from them as soon as we have them.

You joined tiney to be part of a community and we want to ensure that you all feel really close and connected in the coming weeks. We'll be hosting some regular online catch-ups where you can come together. Do also keep checking in with one another through your cohort chat groups.

We are here for you with any questions you may have - we’ve answered a few of the most common ones below, but we’d encourage you to get in touch with any specific concerns you have around your business. It is so important to us that all of the home nursery owners who put their trust in us feel loved and nurtured during this difficult period. Remember that asking for help shows wisdom, not weakness.

Love and good health to you and your families during these tricky times,


Being a tiney home leader during Covid-19: Frequently asked questions

Should I shut down my home nursery?

Right now, you don’t need to do this, unless you have reason to believe you or anyone in your home is suffering from or at risk of developing Covid-19. However, the advice is changing day by day and we’ll keep you updated with any key developments.

Other than increased hand-washing, what other special measures should I be taking to keep my home nursery as clean as possible?

Again, the latest government advice has some useful pointers. Some nurseries are also opting to restrict the kind of activities the children in their care take part in - for instance, no longer playing with sand, play dough etc. This is at your discretion and is also worth discussing with the parents of the children you care for.

Some childcare settings are also implementing a “doorstep policy” where parents drop off and pick up their children without entering the premises. This is ultimately up to you and the families you work with, but we would recommend it. If children find the changes unsettling, particularly if their parents usually spend time each day settling them into your home, they may need some age-appropriate reassurance and extra cuddles from both their parents and you. You could even play songs they like, or greet them at the door with their favourite toy or snack - anything to put them at ease and make them excited for the day ahead.

If a child in my setting is unwell, what are the next steps?

If a child you care for develops a cough or is exhibiting a high temperature, they need to be collected as soon as possible and then stay at home for 14 days, along with the rest of their household.

Can I still go to playgroups and take part in other activities outside the house with the children I care for?

The official advice here is unclear, so we’d recommend using common sense and discussing your plans with the parents of the children in your care, since they may feel anxious about it. Walks in the woods and trips to the park are fine, but you should exercise caution around playgroups and other indoor activities. Many class providers are cancelling their schedules anyway, or even offering online entertainment instead.

Someone I know and have been in contact with has tested positive for Covid-19 or is suspected of having contracted it, can I keep my home nursery open?

As a business owner, this is down to you. However, you should discuss this with the parents of the children you care for.

The children I care for are asking about Coronavirus, what can I do to reassure them?

We would encourage you to read our guide about communicating with young children about Coronavirus, and helping them stay safe without causing any unnecessary alarm. Children are often more perceptive than we give them credit for, so try and communicate the basics while still making them feel content and cared for, and find out from their parents what information they have been given (or overheard) at home too so you can ensure you’re aligned.

If schools and childcare settings are instructed to shut down nationally, what do I do?

We’ll be in touch if this happens. It is likely that, if a national lockdown does go ahead, there will be several days’ notice, so you can prepare yourself and the parents of the children you care for accordingly.

Do parents still need to pay me, even if they’re choosing to keep their child at home?

Yes - if a parent has chosen to remove their child from your setting because they’re unwell, or they’re self-isolating to avoid becoming unwell, they’re still obliged to pay you. It is thought this will also be the case in the event that childcare settings are told to shut down by the government. However, it is down to you, as a self-employed business owner, if you enforce this. Some childminders are slashing their fees in half, for instance, if children can’t attend. Others are letting parents know that if they aren’t paid in full, they may be unable to hold their child’s place or even keep trading altogether.

It is down to you and your individual circumstances but bear in mind that parents, particularly those who are self-employed themselves and have seen their income affected by the crisis, will be anxious about paying for childcare they’re not using, so try to deal with any issues as sensitively as possible.

If schools and childcare settings are shut down by the government due to Coronavirus, there is likely to be compensation available for business owners. We are in regular communication with the education authorities and will communicate any developments as and when we hear them.

Can I offer emergency childcare if schools and nurseries close?

This is something we at tiney are currently discussing with the relevant bodies as we anticipate an increased demand for childcare for children of all ages. We’ll be in touch when we know more.

Am I covered by my insurance if I lose business due to Covid-19?

Unfortunately the advice we currently have from your insurers Morton Michel is that your policy will not cover closures due to Covid-19. We will continue to work with them and keep you updated if this situation changes.

Will I get compensation from the government if I lose business due to Covid-19?

The Department for Education have set up a Coronavirus Advice Line which we recommend calling for advice specific to your situation.

If you are a childcare setting and have a question about what steps you need to take to prevent infection, or in the event of a suspected infection, please call 0800 046 8687.

Brett Wigdortz OBE profile img

Brett Wigdortz OBE

Chief Executive Officer

Founder and former CEO of Teach First and Co-Founder of Teach For All and the Fair Education Alliance. Brett’s lifelong mission is to help every child access an excellent education. He wants to support childcare professionals and parents to focus on this goal from a child’s earliest years.

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