The Welsh Government have published a statement on the Childcare Offer for Wales one year on and also announced plans for further expansion. .
More than 3,300 children have benefited from the Welsh Government’s ground-breaking childcare offer during its first year, Minister for Children, Huw Irranca-Davies, announced yesterday.
The Welsh Government is committed to providing 30 hours a week of government-funded early education and childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, for up to 48 weeks of the year. The 30 hours is made up of the existing minimum of 10 hours of Foundation Phase and up to 20 hours of childcare with a registered provider.
The childcare offer is currently being roll-out across Wales, and is available in at least some areas in half of Wales’ 22 Local Authorities. It will be available across the country by 2020.
During the offer’s first year:
- 3,395 children have taken up places in settings offering the childcare offer;
- More than 574 providers are taking part in the offer.
Early implementation of the offer began in September 2017 in selected Local Authorities in line with previous news stories shared by PACEY Cymru. There has been a focus on partnership working between authorities with new implementation authorities working alongside existing local authorities to maximise learning and efficient delivery.
Welsh Government stated that the Childcare Offer is already making a positive difference to working parents and that feedback from eligible parents accessing the offer and childcare providers has generally been positive. Parents are reporting that it is already making a difference to their lives, reducing the strain on family income and helping ensure childcare is not a barrier to them taking up employment or increasing their hours.
Welsh Government announced the following updates as part of their statement:
Blaenau Gwent is working with Torfaen and the Offer is fully available across both authorities. Newport began taking applications from parents earlier this month for a number of identified wards, and it was announced that Newport has agreed to extend the Offer throughout its entire authority accepting applications from October 2018 and will deliver the Offer for the whole of Monmouthshire from January 2019.
Flintshire is already delivering across its entire authority, and is currently working with Wrexham to deliver the offer in some wards, with a view to rolling out full authority by January 2019. Flintshire are also working with Denbighshire and are planning on beginning roll-out from January 2019.
Anglesey and Gwynedd have implemented the Offer across their entire authorities and are working with Conwy who are currently delivering in some wards. It was announced that Conwy will proceed to full authority from January 2019.
Rhondda Cynon Taff has been providing the Offer across its entire authority since the start of September 2018 and is working closely with Merthyr to deliver the Offer across that authority from January 2019. Rhondda Cynon Taff is also working with Bridgend who will start delivery sometime during 2019.
Implementation in Cardiff will begin in the autumn once all the IT application systems are fully functioning and tested; firstly in a number of selected wards followed by a roll-out across the rest of city. Cardiff Council will also deliver the childcare offer for the Vale of Glamorgan, and implementation is planned to begin in early 2019.
Caerphilly is operating the Offer across its entire authority. Neath Port Talbot and Swansea are currently delivering to a number of wards, and are both proposing to proceed to full authority from January 2019.
Ceredigion is a new delivery authority and is delivering the offer across the whole authority. Welsh Government are hopeful that Ceredigion will be able to deliver for the whole of Carmarthenshire from January 2019 with Pembrokeshire and Powys coming on board from April 2019.
Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies said:
“Since taking up post as Minister for Children in November 2017, I’ve seen for myself how well-received our ground-breaking childcare offer is among families right across the country.
“I’m delighted so many children and their families have benefited from the childcare offer during the first year. It’s allowing parents to either take-up or return to work – which is not only good for the Welsh economy, but it’s also reducing strain on family incomes.
“But that’s not all – our offer is helping to create high quality childcare jobs in communities across Wales, delivering on the Welsh Government’s pledge to help create better jobs, closer to people’s homes.”