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Childcare services set to resume

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Children at the Kolab IV Orphanage in Phnom Penh. Social Affairs Ministry

Childcare services set to resume

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation will allow associations and local and international NGOs to resume the provision of childcare services after it was suspended since April to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In a directive seen by The Post on Monday, it said the organisations can now resume the services as long as they follow safety and preventive measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

It said the decision was made after the government demonstrated “success” in its response to the pandemic. However, visitors are barred from any of the centres until further notice.

“Donors, foreign volunteers and generous people who wish to visit the children at the centres or in the community must refrain from doing so to avoid the spread of Covid-19,” it said.

Preventive measures detailed in the directive are divided into two parts – one for the organisations and the other for caretakers.

For the organisations, the number of vulnerable children and child victims who will receive training at each centre cannot exceed 10. Social distancing must be maintained at all time, the directive said.

Associations and NGOs must prepare soap, sanitisers, hand-washing basins and thermometers, and continue to educate the children on the importance of handwashing and other preventive measures.

Directors, programme managers, social workers, childcare service staff, and children under their care must learn and practice safety measures introduced by the health ministry.

They must monitor the health of children and immediately report any suspicious Covid-19-related symptoms to caretakers, local authorities, health officials and the social affairs department.

Caretakers must continue to look after children at home or the centre, and avoid going to high-risk places such as recreation centres or kindergartens. They are required to follow strict hygiene practices to protect themselves against Covid-19 and from transmitting it to others.

Social Affairs ministry spokesperson Touch Channy told The Post on Monday that childcare centres are divided into two types – centres where children lived permanently and those where they go for training and return home after class.

“Previously, we imposed restrictions on the centres by not allowing children to leave or enter them, which means they stay there permanently. Visitors were also banned from visiting them.

“During the Khmer New Year, we banned children from leaving the centres because we were afraid that they could contract the virus.

“Now that the situation has improved, we’ve loosened the measures a little. So we allow community centres to reopen and require them to follow safety and other preventive measures,” he said.

Channy said there are currently 223 childcare centres across the Kingdom, where 6,597 children are enrolled. Most of the centres provide life skills training. Foreign language classes are managed by Cambodians, he said.

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