Changes to our services

Children and families

Updated 15 May 2020

Schools reopening in phases

The government have announced that schools, colleges and early years settings could begin reopening to more pupils from 1 June.

We're supporting childcare providers to ensure they can open safely from 1 June. Any return will be on a small-scale basis, focusing on the health and safety of pupils, families and staff.

Childcare providers will be contacting parents and carers with details of their arrangements in the coming weeks. Please contact us at if you have any queries.

See our update on Essex preparing for phased school reopening for more information.

Childcare for children of critical workers

Some childcare providers are staying open to support critical workers.

If you're a critical worker and need support in finding childcare, you can email us at

Direct payments

Our Children and Families Service is aware of the challenges the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents for those who use a direct payment to pay for their child or young person's care and support needs.

We wrote to all direct payment holders in March to provide information, guidance and details of how to contact us if they needed urgent support.

We've received questions from people about how to manage their Direct Payments under the current circumstances. We've produced guidance to answer these questions. We will update this regularly as we receive more questions and as guidance changes.

This guidance is for those who:

  • manage their own direct payment
  • have support from Purple, the company we currently use, to manage their direct payment
  • manage a direct payment on behalf of someone else

COVID-19: direct payments for children frequently asked questions (PDF, 400KB)

PPE for direct payment recipients

Direct payment recipients that need personal protective equipment (PPE) for themselves or their carers can buy them from a list of suppliers. We have checked that these suppliers will sell directly to individuals.

These suppliers have given us permission to publish their details and they've provided the information and the products on offer. We don't warrant or guarantee them.

See the list of PPE suppliers for direct payments users (Excel spreadsheet, 31KB)

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