A summary of the changes to the way providers are paid for the Childcare Offer for Wales.
What is the Childcare Offer for Wales national digital service?
The Childcare Offer for Wales is currently being delivered across Wales by local authorities who use different systems to process parent applications and pay childcare providers for Childcare Offer hours provided. The national digital service will replace those systems so that every local authority, parent and childcare provider will use one single service.
Why are you changing it?
As local authorities have been using their own systems to deliver the Childcare Offer, the experience of parents and childcare providers has differed across Wales, depending on where they live and which system their local authority uses.
For childcare settings providing care for children from different local authority areas, this has been problematic as they have needed to work with a number of different local authority systems and deal with a number of different payment schedules.
With the national digital service, parents will all use one service and have the same experience in their application process. Childcare providers will move towards working with just one system and one payment schedule, no matter which local authority area the children in their care live in.
The national digital service is fully bilingual, enabling those childcare providers and parents who wish to engage with the Childcare Offer through the medium of Welsh to do so.
When is it coming?
Parents applying for Childcare Offer hours to be provided in January 2023 can now apply through the new service. Childcare providers will need to have created an account on the new service. Find out more about when to register.
Will it be secure?
Yes the national digital service has been developed to the highest standard of data security. Details that parents and providers submit to create an account will only be accessible to local authority staff who have permission to access this service.
Can I still use the current local authority Childcare Offer system(s)?
The national digital service launched on 7 November, all new parents will now apply through the national digital service, and payments for Childcare Offer hours provided for these children will only be made via the new service.
Children who are already accessing the Childcare Offer at the point of roll out will continue to remain on current local authority systems and payments for children within those systems will remain as they are now.
How will payments for the Childcare Offer be affected?
One of the benefits of the national digital service is fast and regular payments to childcare providers. Payments can be claimed weekly or monthly in arrears. The money should be in your bank account within 72 hours. (Please note that claims made through the Additional Support Grant route may take longer due to the need for the local authority to approve the payment)
Parents/children already accessing the Childcare Offer at the point of roll out of the new service will remain on the current LA systems. Therefore payments for those children will continue to be made through the LAs.
How will the parents of the children attending my setting know what to do?
Guidance is available online to support parents to use the service to apply for and agree their Childcare Offer hours.
Local authority Family Information Services/childcare teams will continue to provide further support as required.
We have provided local authorities with marketing materials to disseminate locally, including childcare settings, to help promote the Childcare Offer and signpost parents to support and information.
Parents wishing to receive Childcare Offer funded childcare from January 2023
Parents wishing to receive Childcare Offer funded childcare from January 2023 will need to apply through the national digital Childcare Offer for Wales service. Applications are now open for the January intake – Find further details on what’s needed and how to apply.
Parents already accessing the Offer now that the national digital service has gone (November 22)
Parents already accessing the Offer do not need to do anything and will remain within the legacy 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.
I look after children who need some additional support to access the Childcare Offer. Will funding for these children still be available through the Additional Support Grant?
Yes, funding for children requiring additional support will continue to be available via the Additional Support Grant. Please refer to the local authority guidance for further information on how this could be used.
Contact your local authority for further information or to discuss how to apply for this funding.