The Childcare Offer will be extended to parents in education and training and parents on adoption leave, the Welsh Government has announced.
From September, parents in education and training and parents who are on adoption leave, if it is in line with the child’s Adoption Support Plan, will be eligible for up to 30 hours of government funded early education and childcare for children aged three and four.
Currently workless households are not eligible for government-funded childcare in addition to their early education entitlement.
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said:
Our Programme for Government outlined our pledge to provide more childcare for parents in education and training and we are committed to supporting working families with the costs of childcare. It is fantastic we are able to continue expanding the Childcare Offer to increase the number of families accessing the offer.
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.
The Welsh Government has also announced an extra £6 million per year to increase the hourly rate for childcare providers from £4.50 to £5 per hour from April. The 11% increase will help provide greater sustainability across the childcare sector in Wales. Ministers have committed to reviewing the rate at least every three years. The maximum amount settings can charge for food will also increase from £7.50 to £9 a day, reflecting the increase in both food prices and utility and energy prices.
In addition, a further £3.5 million will be invested in Flying Start childcare and £1.5 million will be used to support the continued alignment of the Foundation Phase nursery and childcare funding rates under the Childcare Offer.
Ms Morgan said:
We want Wales to be a great place to grow up and giving children the best start in life is central to this ambition. We will continue to review the scheme and the rate paid to providers to ensure parents can continue to benefit from the Childcare Offer and high-quality care and education is provided to children across Wales.
Claire Protheroe, National Manager for Wales for the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY Cymru) said:
PACEY Cymru welcome the announcement on the rise in the rate to be paid to providers delivering the Childcare Offer for Wales. This follows engagement with the sector to hear their views and it is positive these have been reflected on and valued. There have been, and continue to be, challenges for the sector with Covid-19 and the rising costs of living impacting on confidence in relation to ongoing financial viability. In particular PACEY Cymru are concerned about the ongoing decline in registered childminders in Wales and we know the sector is in a fragile place. This announcement is a positive step forward in relation to supporting wider financial sustainability of all settings in Wales and recognition of the rising cost of delivery of quality childcare and play services.