Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
In our Programme for Government we committed to fund childcare for more parents in education and training. Following the Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru this was expanded to also include support for those on the edge of work, supporting our drive to increase economic growth, tackle poverty and reduce inequalities.
The Childcare Offer for Wales provides up to 30 hours of government funded early education and childcare to 3 and 4 year olds for 48 weeks per year. The scheme, established by Welsh Government, is going from strength to strength, with more families benefiting from the Offer year on year.
Currently, whilst access to the early education element of the Offer is universal, access to the childcare element is only available to eligible working parents. I am therefore pleased to announce that from September of this year we will be expanding the Offer to enable parents who are in education and training to also benefit from the additional hours of funded childcare it provides.
This is a first step towards achieving the commitment set out in the Programme for Government and within the Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
Evaluations of the Childcare Offer have shown that it is having a positive impact on parents’ ability to increase their earnings and creating more employment options for parents. Increasing support with childcare costs for parents in education and training reflects the value placed on supporting those seeking to improve their employment prospects by gaining qualifications, retraining or changing career paths.
The expansion of the Offer will focus initially on parents who are enrolled on higher and further education courses. Once this change has been implemented, we will look include additional cohorts of learners over time. This could include those in adult learning, work based learning, community learning and also those undertaking more short term learning, including ESOL courses.
In addition, I can also announce that from the 1st April, the Childcare offer will be expanded to enable eligible parents who are on adoption leave to access the Offer for the child who is the subject of the adoption, provided this in line with their Adoption Support Plan.
These expansions of the Childcare Offer are a first step in better meeting the needs of families in Wales, demonstrating our commitment to support working families with the costs of childcare.