Childcare Offer reopening to new children
The Welsh Government will reopen the Childcare Offer for Wales to new entrants from mid-August, giving certainty to parents and the childcare sector.
The Offer was suspended in April to allow resources to be refocused to support the childcare needs of critical workers and vulnerable children through the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme (C-CAS).
Parents who were unable to apply for a place for their eligible child for the summer term can apply for the autumn term within a few days. Applications from parents whose child becomes eligible during the autumn term will be considered from September onwards.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Cymru, said: “It’s good news that the Welsh Government is to reopen the Childcare Offer to new entrants and that they are continuing to review the funding rates paid to providers.
“On average, nurseries have told us they have around half their usual numbers of children attending, so this decision will give some certainty to the sector, support parents and go towards making nurseries more sustainable.
“Childcare providers have gone above and beyond during lockdown and since then to make their settings as safe as they can for staff and children. However, changes like increased cleaning, working with smaller groups and installing new facilities all come at a cost. We have seen some countries make transitional funds available to support nurseries and childcare settings with these adjustments.
“In our recent survey, increased operating costs and lower occupancy meant over 60% of providers expected to operate at a loss for the coming few months. This is clearly not sustainable for nurseries or the families who need those childcare places as they return to work.”
Details on the timing and how to apply for the Childcare Offer will be available on local authority websites and through Family Information Services.
The Welsh Government also confirmed that they would publish updated guidance later this week for childcare settings on how they can operate safely, taking into account the First Minister’s announcement on Friday 31 July that children under 11 do not need to socially distance.
The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care, Julie Morgan (pictured right), said: “We have been working with our partners in recent weeks to explore our options for restarting the Offer. I feel extremely indebted, especially to local authorities, for the way they have risen to the challenges of the past few months, administering the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme and supporting families with their very diverse and often complex needs.
“Childcare providers have been fantastic too, many of whom stayed open when the virus was at its most prevalent to ensure that critical workers were able to contribute effectively to the national effort against the pandemic.
“Many families will have suffered financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. Some workers will have been hit harder than others and we know that for many women childcare has been a real barrier in terms of their capacity to work. Bringing the Offer back will not only help parents, but it is crucial for providers too in supporting their businesses to recover after what has been a period of great uncertainty and anxiety for many.”
Read the full announcement here.