A new national digital service which will streamline the Childcare Offer for parents and childcare providers has launched.
The Childcare Offer has also been extended to more families, and parents in education and training can now apply for up to 30 hours of government funded early education and childcare for children aged three and four.
Currently the Childcare Offer is delivered by local authorities who use different systems to process parent applications and pay providers for Childcare Offer hours provided. The national digital service will replace these systems so that every local authority, parent and childcare provider will use one single service.
The new national digital platform is available bilingually online and can be accessed on mobile devices including tablets and mobile phones and will ensure parents and childcare providers across Wales have the same experience no matter which local authority area they live in.
Parents eligible to receive the Childcare Offer from January 2023 will be able to apply from now through the new service.
Parents already accessing the Offer will not need to do anything and will remain within their local authority system. However, if they wish to receive Childcare Offer funding for another child from January 2023, they will need to apply via the national digital service.
Launching the Childcare Offer national digital service at a nursery in Cardiff the Deputy Minister for Social Services said:
Our ground-breaking Childcare Offer is making a real difference to parents right across Wales, and we continually look for ways we can expand or improve our Offer. I’m delighted to announce the launch of our new Childcare Offer digital service. Having a single, national system will ensure a simple, streamlined service for both parents and childcare providers across Wales. I want to thank everyone in the childcare sector, local authorities and parents who have helped us to deliver the Childcare Offer digital service.
We are committed to supporting working families with the costs of childcare and it is fantastic we are able to increase the number of families accessing the Offer. I am pleased over 168 additional families so far have been helped by this expansion. Increasing support with childcare costs for parents in education and training reflects the value we place on supporting people to improve their employment prospects by gaining qualifications, retraining or changing career paths.
Claire Potter, Operations Manager at Darling Buds Nursery said:
The new childcare offer digital service will have a positive impact to our settings, as we have children from multiple Local Authorities attending who access the funding. The new service will enable us to use one national portal to submit claims regardless of which Local Authority authorised the childcare offer funding.
In addition, the service will have a positive benefit to our parents/carers as they will be able to access the portal, and view the agreed hours and any remaining hours for them to utilise. Thus creating a transparent process which will eliminate any confusion for parents/carers and ourselves, especially where parents use the service of more than one childcare provider.
Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Services, Cllr Ash Lister said:
We want to make the process of applying for a childcare offer place, as simple and straightforward as possible, so that parents and families requiring a place, can easily access what is available to them. The launch of the Digital Service will help simplify the application process and will also provide childcare providers with an efficient way of claiming and receiving payments
We are committed to supporting the delivery of the Childcare Offer which continues to support caregivers to access training and employment, allowing them to reduce childcare costs. For the children, attendance at registered childcare supports child development and school readiness, providing opportunities for play, learning and socialisation with their peers.