In September it was announced in The Senedd that Welsh Government plan to offer 30 hours of free childcare to working parents of 3-4 year olds in Wales.
Last week more details were made available. Basically, areas within 6 counties in Wales have been selected to pilot the free childcare scheme. These are:
- Blaenau Gwent
- and Rhondda Cynon Taf
This is only the start though, as others will be added later to fully test the scheme before a Wales-wide rollout. Exact details of which towns, villages etc. will be part of this first test phase have not been announced yet. But if you live in one of the 6 counties above, start getting excited as you’re set to save quite a bit of money if you’re currently paying for childcare.
The plan is for the pilot scheme to start in September 2017.
Here’s what Carl Sargeant AM, the Communities and Children Secretary, said to The Senedd about it:
“One of the concerns working parents have raised with us time and again is the cost of childcare, and the impact that has on them, their finances and their quality of life.
“Helping parents meet the costs of childcare is only part of the picture. We also need to address availability and accessibility”
“It makes no sense for parents to be earning less than their childcare costs. It makes no sense to have to turn down a promotion, or a better job, losing opportunities to improve your family’s circumstances, just because you can’t access childcare when and where you need it. We want parents to have employment choices.”
Why are they piloting the schemes?
This is a major project that could involve some serious logistics. In his announcement Carl Sergeant AM also said, “Testing the offer will allow us to make sure we learn what works and what doesn’t, building on experience and evidence to deliver for all working parents in Wales.”
And alongside the pilots in 6 counties there’s Talk Childcare. Talk Childcare is where Welsh Government are looking for people’s views on this new Childcare Offer. Your feedback will inform what shape this scheme will take when it is introduced across the whole of Wales, alongside the results of the pilots.
Give your feedback!
So if you’d like to have your say on this scheme, and childcare generally in Wales, then click any of the below that applies to you…
- I have a child who is under 3 years old
- I have a child who is 3-4 years old
- I’d like to share my experience from when my child was 3-4 years old
Alternatively you can email them: TalkChildCare@wales.gsi.gov.uk
What’s available now?
There is already a free childcare scheme in Wales called Flying Start. But not everyone can access it, as it depends on where you live to qualify for Flying Start. It appears that this new childcare offer will not have post code restrictions.
What happens next?
We wait for more details. More should become clear when Welsh Government announces its full budget. It announced a draft budget in September, so that should give a good indication of what to expect.
The Childcare Offer is only a plan at the moment and we don’t know when it will be rolled out across Wales or where exactly it will start. Yet this is something to be aware of, and FamilyPoint Cymru will be following this story closely. In the meantime, have a look at our childcare news and articles.
Want to find out about services available to you and your child in your area? Would you like to chat about family matters in general? Then get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline.
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