True parental choice is key to achieving access to high-quality childcare

NDNA Cymru says giving parents their true choice of childcare place will resolve problems, some of which are detailed in Family and Childcare Trust’s survey.

Family and Childcare Trust’s annual Childcare Survey published today shows a concerning jump in the price of childcare but an increase in local authorities reporting they have sufficient childcare provision.

NDNA’s own Annual Nursery Survey which will be launched next month in Cardiff will show that sustainability is a massive issue for nurseries in Wales, with occupancy falling in private and voluntary nurseries, and marks a lack of parental choice.

NDNA Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE, said: “We are surprised with FACT’s findings which don’t reflect the evidence we have gathered from our members and nurseries in Wales. 

“Members tell us that parents are not able to find convenient, flexible childcare to fit their working patterns. Because of this, children are being moved between settings to take advantage of funded hours and cover their parents’ working day.

“This patchwork of provision for children in Wales is largely down to many local authorities continuing to restrict the number of private and voluntary nurseries which can deliver funded places, instead sending children to maintained settings and schools.

“Childcare should not just be about ticking boxes, it’s important that the provision available meets families’ needs. The skills and expertise within private and voluntary nurseries are not being used throughout the country.

“Nurseries are keen to offer more funded places, but need to be given the opportunity to do so. They also need the fees given through local authorities to cover their delivery costs, so they can maintain high-quality early education and keep their businesses sustainable.”

Nurseries are working hard to keep the cost of childcare as low as possible for parents. According to our survey, fees are not increasing as much as FACT suggests, but only by an average of 2% in Wales. But bigger increases in fees are likely over the next few years due to the impact of the National Living Wage and knock-on effect of continuing underfunding of free places. 

Purnima added: “We will be making a number of recommendations in our annual survey report to resolve the key issues or parental choice, recruitment and underfunding.”