During lockdown, staff at Wrexham Council have been required to take on some large pieces of work for which staff teams had not previously existed. An example of this is the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme.

Welsh Government announced at the end of March that they would be funding childcare placements for some pre-school aged children of critical workers and those who were vulnerable. With just one week’s notice, the Prevention and Service Development Team put together two teams of staff, set up the scheme with all the necessary documentation, an online application process and a payment system.

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Staff previously had nothing to do with childcare

One team of nine staff (seven of them borrowed from other social care teams, who had previously had nothing to do with childcare) processed all parent applications and set up the necessary placements in childcare settings to enable critical workers to continue to carry out their vital roles.

A second team of five received all the data, kept records and processed all the payments to make sure the placements all went ahead without a hitch. Staff stepped sideways and upwards to make sure all the necessary roles were covered.

Over 45 childcare settings delivering the scheme

Their quick work in putting this all in place saw 380 Wrexham children per week accessing these free (funded) places, with over 45 childcare settings delivering the scheme. The council teams have processed payments that have saved Wrexham’s critical workers over £500,000 in childcare costs.

Staff involved had to learn their new roles very quickly. They all worked extremely hard and collaborated brilliantly throughout the pandemic lockdown and delivered this very successful scheme to serve communities in Wrexham.

Every part of the scheme is important to make it work as a whole: competent management, good decision making, accurate record keeping and swift and correct payments.

“A fantastic achievement”

Cllr Andrew Atkinson, said: “All staff deserve thanks and acknowledgement for delivering this new service quickly and efficiently – every part has been excellent. What is all the more impressive is that staff were all working almost exclusively from home, with some caring for and, for most of it, home schooling their own children at the same time!

“This is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the commitment, dedication, adaptability and ability of council staff members and managers. Well done to all involved in ensuring that children remained safe in quality childcare whilst also allowing critical workers to go to work to carry out their essential roles.”

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