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We welcome plans for piloting new Childcare Offer in Wales

The funding rate announced for childcare providers testing the Childcare Offer in Wales is positive news for nurseries, says NDNA Cymru.

Parents  will be able to choose where their child will receive their additional free childcare hours and there is an assumption that parents will be expected to pay extra for meals and activities.

The new Childcare Offer gives three and four-year-old children with working parents up to 30 hours of paid-for early education and childcare per week. Unlike England, the Childcare Offer for Wales covers nine weeks of the school holidays too. 

Providers within the pilot areas,  taking place in Anglesey and Gwynedd (working jointly), Blaenau Gwent, Flintshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Caerphilly, will receive £4.50 per hour per child to deliver childcare. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “We are very pleased that the Welsh Government has taken on board some of the recommendations from our Annual Survey. These include funding following the child, increased hourly funding rates and our Childcare Passport online account to pool all funding streams.

“Following years of campaigning for the funding rate in Wales to adequately reflect the real cost of delivering quality childcare, we are hopeful that this new rate will allow as many nurseries as possible to participate.

“Our survey results revealed in April showed that nurseries in Wales are paid the lowest rate in the UK for Foundation Phase at an average of £3.15 per child per hour, resulting in nursery businesses having to absorb unsustainable losses. As a result, 65% of nurseries expected to make a loss or just break even.
“This new rate is based on an assessment of current fees, which is an important principle to follow and shows a realistic approach to this offer.

“News that the full £4.50 will be paid to providers without local authorities removing administration costs will be well received. Virtual accounts, similar to the Childcare Passport proposal that NDNA suggested, may be planned during the piloting. 

“In addition, the Welsh Government has said nurseries can charge parents up to £7.50 per day for meals and to make further costs for activities and trips.   

“Parents can also choose where their child receives their free hours which is a big step forward, having campaigned for local authorities to work more with private and voluntary nurseries.”

NDNA Cymru understands however that the Foundation Phase hours which comprise the education element of funded childcare will not be paid for at the new rate of £4.50. 

Mrs Tanuku continued: “Having two different rates, one for early years education in Foundation Phase and one for childcare makes no sense. 

“There is a risk that private providers drop out of offering Foundation Phase altogether. Parents should be offered the choice for both types of provision. It’s time we had a seamless process so children do not need to be switched from one setting to another during the course of a day.

“We hope that these issues can be looked at carefully and all solutions tested thoroughly during these pilots. 

“There are a lot of positives to this plan. This is a great opportunity for the sector to work closely with the Government and put Wales at the forefront of progressive early learning in the UK.”

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