Informal childcare rules for disabled children and young people during Covid pandemic across the UK

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Informal childcare by a friend or a grandparent can be hugely important to enable parents of disabled children to work or do the shopping or other household jobs. But what are the rules now that we are seeing more Covid restrictions across the UK?

England – updated 3 November

England is going into a national lockdown on 5 November.

According to government guidance, parents will still be able to access some registered childcare and other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, or for the purposes of respite care.

Early years settings can remain open. Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under. As above, some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household.

Some youth services may be able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.

Adults are also permitted to leave the home to provide care for any vulnerable person.


In Wales, where they announced a national circuit breaker starting on Friday, family and friends can still provide informal childcare, but the guidance says this should only be used when no other methods are available. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill.  Adults dropping off children for childcare should not enter someone else’s home.


In Scotland where households have not been able to mix since 10 October, there is an exemption for informal childcare. If you are part of an extended household then any adult in that extended household can look after your children, even if you don’t live with them. You can find out more about who can form extended households here.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, where restrictions on mixing of households was introduced on 22 September 2020, there is an exemption for informal childcare. The mixing of households is permitted for the purposes of providing informal childcare.