NDNA welcomes Welsh Government plans to test equal funding for Foundation Phase and Childcare Offer

After years of lobbying for better early years funding, National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is delighted that the Welsh Government will pilot aligning Foundation Phase funding with the Childcare Offer for Wales.

The announcement made today by Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education and Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, follows years of research and campaigning from NDNA Cymru.Sandra Welsby - NDNA Cymru National Development Manager

Successive NDNA annual surveys have shown that the Foundation Phase rate for funded three and four-year-old places is inadequate, with 82% of nurseries saying that the funding did not cover their delivery costs (NDNA Annual Nursery Survey for Wales 2018). And 97% of respondents said that Foundation Phase rates should equal those of the Childcare Offer which is £4.50 per hour per child.

Some members reported their Foundation Phase funding was half that of the Childcare Offer.

A pilot programme to test this funding alignment will be run across Flintshire in partnership with Flintshire County Council during the spring and summer terms. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “This is really great news and shows that the Welsh Government continues to listen to us and the sector. They know that private nurseries are a crucial part of the childcare and early education provision across the country, offering quality and flexibility for working families.

“NDNA Cymru has raised this issue for years with the Government but in our last survey we highlighted it as a significant concern for nurseries. Many nurseries have been forced to increase their fees, meaning parents of younger children end up paying the shortfall in funding. It also results in low pay for the skilled, dedicated workforce. 

“We have seen parents juggling Foundation Phase and Childcare Offer hours between different providers as delivering both hasn’t always been sustainable. This announcement should make it easier for children to have a more stable early years experience with nurseries able to cater for families who want to keep children in one setting for both elements.

“The Welsh Government’s plans for childcare are the most ambitious in the UK, offering 30 funded hours for three and four-year-olds of working parents for 48 weeks of the year. To get it right, they are working closely with us and this is resulting in some really positive steps forward. Alignment of the funding could potentially result in much-needed parental choice and flexibility to suit the needs of working families.” 

Sandra Welsby, NDNA’s National Manager for Wales, said: “This has been a long time coming but very welcome news. We will monitor this pilot closely with our members and the Welsh Government and look forward to their evaluation report later this year.

“Alongside 100% business rate relief for nurseries, this announcement shows how much the Welsh Government values early years providers and is finding ways to address the sustainability concerns within the sector.”

Early implementation of the Childcare Offer for Wales began in September 2017 with all areas of Wales due to be offering this to working families by the end of this year. From April 2019 all registered childcare businesses in Wales will be able to claim 100% relief from business rates.

The full statement can be found here

Read more in this Nursery World article