Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance

Last updated: 18 Feb 2022 - see all updates
Published: 5 Mar 2021

Non-statutory guidance to support childminding settings to operate safely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance


This guidance is for Care Inspectorate registered childminders.

Nannies and au pairs can continue to provide childcare in accordance with the restrictions on informal childcare in the protection level in which they are operating. They should follow the appropriate guidance on meeting indoors, and Parent Club contains additional explanation which may be useful.


We know there are challenges in delivering services after a turbulent break and in the evolving COVID-19 situation in Scotland. In line with Realising the Ambition, our focus must be on supporting children to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base which will stand them in good stead as they grow and develop. Nurturing and attached relationships are essential to creating the conditions for children to flourish in childcare.

All children have a right to play, to learn and to access experiences that meet their physical, social, emotional and cultural needs, and they have a right to associate with their peers. In line with Scotland's commitment to Getting It Right For Every Child, children also have the right to the best possible health, with their best interests a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect them. Adults, of course, also have fundamental rights in relation to their health and wellbeing. These important rights and considerations have all been factored into the development of a framework for delivering ELC and school-aged childcare services.

While the vaccination of adults has changed the relative rates of transmission, evidence continues to confirm that younger children are at lower risk of clinical disease from COVID-19 than are older children and adults. There is no evidence of any difference in the risk of severe COVID-19 among pre-school, primary and secondary school teachers, relative to other adults of a similar age.

However, as the First Minister has said, we currently face a renewed and severe challenge resulting from the emergence of the new Omicron variant, which is more transmissible and spreads faster than previous variants. Due to this, childminders must place very high priority on reinforcing all of mitigations set out in this guidance, and ensuring all staff are aware of their own responsibilities in applying it. This is particularly important in relation to any areas of the guidance which have changed (see below). Given the evidence of risk, the First Minister’s statement on 10 December also highlighted the importance of minimising unnecessary contacts, especially in crowded places, and to consider deferring social events. This is aligned with recent Public Health Scotland (PHS) advice.

Within the context of the Omicron variant, the Advisory Sub-group on Education and Children’s Issues and senior clinicians have provided advice on the changes in this guidance based upon the latest clinical and public health assessment of the situation and a four harms assessment. Following that advice, Ministers decided that strengthening mitigations at this stage is important and necessary as part of a society-wide drive to minimise transmission.

This guidance provides principles to help you make decisions based on the best available evidence to help you operate in a changed context. It will not provide the specific answer to every circumstance which may arise, but it will provide the basis on which you can use your professional judgement to make a decision. Please also be aware that public health advice may evolve over time, and you should check online to make sure you are working to the most recent version of this guidance.

Version 15 of the guidance published on 17 February 2022 allows primary school teachers and senior school staff to visit ELC settings as part of the transitioning process. Considerations for school visits by children and young people entering P1 or S1 should be risk assessed and built into the relevant decisions when undertaking transition planning.

Version 14 of the guidance was published on 10 January 2022. This version included:

  • a revised approach to self-isolation for high risk contacts from 6 January 2022 taking account of the latest advice and progress with the booster programme
  • the addition of a new section on vaccination
  • update to the self-isolation exemption for public services as this only applies to those people who were isolating before 6 January 2022, given the changes to the self-isolation policy
  • the section on testing has been revised to reflect the latest advice
  • an addition to the section on cleaning practices covering sand

Version 13 of the guidance was published on 24 December 2021. It contained a further clarification of what would normally be considered as close contact within a childminding setting and a new section on the Critical National Infrastructure Exemption. 

Version 12 of the guidance was published on 17 December 2021. In light of the Omicron variant settings have been encouraged to apply the changes in this guidance update as soon as it is feasible to do so. This version reflected changes to the wording of previous guidance to reinforce:

  • actions to minimise child to child and adult to adult contact through the use of groupings in indoor spaces, wherever that is possible. The general approach should be to minimise the size of groups as far as possible and limit movement between groups unless that is absolutely necessary. Childminders are best placed to judge whether and how this guidance should be applied within their settings
  • visits to settings by parents: ‘virtual’ visits should be the norm for meetings with parents. However, where it may be in the best interests of children for a parent or carer to attend in person, this should be considered on a case by case basis
  • visits to settings by specialist staff: visits for specialist staff will continue to be allowed but staff should follow the guidance on testing and ensure that they follow all the infection prevention and control measures set out in this guidance

In addition, we updated the following sections to reflect the latest advice:

  • latest advice for those on the highest risk list
  • setting out the new position on self isolation (as of 10 December) whereby children of all ages will be required to self-isolate if they are a household contact of a positive case (this position has been updated in this version 14 of the guidance)
  • updated guidance on day visits to encourage settings to exercise caution about arranging visits at this time
  • minor updates in supporting documents to bring material up to date

Childminders are encouraged to read the guidance in full.

This document is uncontrolled when you print the PDF. Make sure you check back here to ensure you are using the most up to date version.

First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 18 Feb 2022 -