Detailed guide: Making a childcare bubble with another household

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From Thursday 5 November, you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting.

However, if you have a child or children aged 13 or under, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

This means you can only get informal help with childcare from friends or family if they:

  • live with you
  • are part of your support bubble
  • are part of your childcare bubble

What a childcare bubble is

A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the homes from the 2 households. Informal childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered.

All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement.

The childcare can be provided where necessary in any location public or private, indoors or outdoors.

You can only use a childcare bubble for childcare that is, where the childs parent or regular carer is not present. You cannot use a childcare bubble to mix with another household for other reasons.

If you lived in a high or very high local COVID alert level area before 5 November

If you formed a childcare bubble before 5 November, you can stop that arrangement and form a new childcare bubble from Thursday 5 November if you wish. To do this, you must have stopped the previous bubble arrangement before 5 November.

You cannot change childcare bubbles after 5 November

From Thursday 5 November, if you start a childcare bubble with another household, you cannot change it to a different household.

If all children turn 14

The childcare bubble only continues while there are any children aged 13 or younger within that bubble.

Once all children in a household are 14 or above, the childcare bubble arrangement must stop.

If your child lives in more than one location

You can mix indoors where necessary with the other parent to allow your child to move between homes.

Both you and the other parent can also form a childcare bubble with another household.

Similarly, if neither parent lives with your child (for example, because they are at boarding school), you and your child are permitted to leave home to see each other.

Try to limit travelling long distances to make a childcare bubble

If possible, try to form a childcare bubble with a household that lives locally. This will help to prevent the virus spreading from an area where a higher number of people are infected with COVID-19.

If youre in a support bubble

Childcare bubbles are separate from support bubbles.

If youre eligible, you can form one childcare bubble and one support bubble with different households.

You must not meet socially with your support bubble and childcare bubble at the same time. Childcare bubbles must be used exclusively for the purposes of childcare.

If someone in your childcare bubble develops coronavirus symptoms or tests positive

If anyone in your childcare bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, follow the stay at home guidance.

If you share custody of your child, and you and your childs other parent are in separate childcare bubbles, members of both bubbles should stay at home if someone develops symptoms.

This is critical to controlling the virus, as it will help to stop it spreading across multiple households.

If NHS Test and Trace contacts you or someone in your childcare bubble, you must follow their guidance.

If youre clinically extremely vulnerable

If youre clinically extremely vulnerable we advise that you do not form childcare bubbles during the period of national restrictions.

Those defined, on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus are people with specific serious health conditions.

Other forms of childcare support

In addition to childcare bubbles, the following people can provide childcare support (including in private homes and gardens):

  • registered childcare providers
  • paid in-home childcare providers
  • people in your support bubble

Guidance on working safely in other peoples homes is available.

Early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal. Nannies are able to work in your home or any other setting.

As a parent, you can also access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable you to:

  • work
  • seek work
  • attend education or training
  • provide respite care for carers

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