Welsh Government have published a report on Childcare Capacity in Wales to determine the ability of the existing childcare market to provide for potential future demands for childcare, particularly for when the new Childcare Offer is fully rolled out in Wales.
This report outlines the value that Welsh Government places on childcare provision and recognises the crucial role it plays in the lives of families in Wales. The importance of affordability, availability and accessibility to high quality childcare enables parents to work or access training while providing key opportunities for child development. The Welsh Government has made a commitment to expand its funded education and childcare offer for working parents of 3-4 year olds. PACEY Cymru has previously reported on this and have produced responses to some Frequently Asked Questions to support those working in Wales.
The report has looked at:
- Identifying the supply of childcare and where it is located
- Identifying which areas in Wales are likely to have higher demand for childcare
- Comparing the supply and potential demand and mapping of childcare provision.
What has the report found?
Unsurprisingly the report has found that, in general, there appears to be higher childcare capacity levels in urban and affluent areas. The areas around main towns and cities have slightly higher averages than more rural areas, with lower levels of capacity typically in rural and disadvantaged areas.
The report has also found that, based on the estimates, if all full time childcare places in Wales were devoted to providing the Childcare Offer, there would not be enough places to accommodate all the children who would potentially be eligible.
What does this mean for the sector?
This report outlines the importance of continuing business support to existing childcare providers to support sustainability and growth and also the need for support to establish new childcare provision especially in identified areas. Childminders specifically have a role to play given that the report acknowledges their prevalence in some areas.
PACEY Cymru are working with a range of partners to support this work going forward to ensure an appropriate support package for the sector to support sustainability and encourage new providers to register. This includes:
- Welsh Government
- Social Care Wales
- Cwlwm partners
- Local Authorities
- Business Wales
Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager (Wales) for PACEY stated ‘This report shows how a joined up approach is needed to meet demand and support growth and sustainability for the sector. Our recent report on Childminder De-registrations has shown an increase in the number of childminders who have de-registered over recent years which could also impact significantly on childcare availability if trends continue. PACEY Cymru believe that childminders should be given the same opportunities as other non-maintained settings to provide funded Foundation Phase education across Wales to support sustainability of provision, accessibility, continuity of care and parental choice.’