Welsh minister proposes free childcare from age one
Huw Irranca-Davies, the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, has announced his ambitious vision to offer free childcare from the age of one in order to help women return to work.
He pledges that if his ambitions were to be realised this scheme would help to support families and give children the best start in life. He has announced this as part of his bid for leadership of Welsh Labour.
NDNA broadly supports Huw Irranca-Davies’ ideas but believes the Welsh government needs to eradicate any current issues first.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “We welcome the very positive and ambitious vision that Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, has set out as part of his leadership contest.
“This proposal is the right way forward to support families and give all children the best start in life.
“He acknowledges that this vision will throw up huge challenges and will take time to put in place. All parties would need to work on this closely together with the right amount of investment promised from the start.
“Before any expansion plans are put together, the Welsh Government needs to iron out all the problems within the current Childcare Offer for Wales.
“NDNA Cymru will be launching its latest research from nurseries across Wales later this month. In particular, nurseries are struggling to deliver Foundation Phase for three and four-year-olds on current funding rates, which are much lower than that for Childcare Offer for Wales, which makes no sense.
“Mr Irranca-Davies speaks about simplifying the childcare support system which is currently very complex for parents and nurseries. NDNA has been proposing an online childcare passport which pools all funding streams which parents can use to pay their choice of childcare provider directly.
“All providers must be fully engaged in any future plans to ensure the vision works for them and enables them to continue to be sustainable.”
The announcement came following Huw Irranca-Davies declaring his hopes of standing as the Welsh Labour Leader last week. First Minister Carwyn Jones will step down, after nine years in office, later this year.
Mr Irranca-Davies believes that childcare should be available from the age of one and wants Wales to have the best package of child care, pre-school education and infant health care in the world.
He understands that rolling out such a scheme would take time, possibly two assembly terms. These plans would see the Flying Start programme rolled out to all children in order to create an integrated Early Childhood Education and Care provision. As well as the Foundation Phase of early years learning and the child care programme for three to four year olds.
He wants to streamline the best elements of these programmes so early education and child development underpin every interface with children aged one to four.
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