Wales’ Childcare Offer providing 30 hours of early education and care to the working parents of 3 and 4 year olds across Wales is set to reopen, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care Julie Morgan has announced today.
The Childcare 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). As of the last week of the school term, just over 9,000 children were accessing this scheme.
As Wales moves to ease more lockdown restrictions and with schools set to return from September, the Offer will reopen for applications enabling families to start accessing the funded childcare.
Parents who would have been eligible for the Offer in the summer term, but who missed out on a full term because they had not started taking up the Offer before the pandemic, will be able to submit their applications from mid-August.
Applications from parents whose child becomes eligible for the Offer in the autumn term will be considered from the start of September onwards.
Details on the timing and how to apply will be available on local authority websites and through Family Information Services.
As before Covid-19, local authorities will also be able to make use of the Additional Support Grant to ensure any child with additional needs can benefit from the Offer in the same way as other children.
Later this week updated guidance will be published 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, 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.
Funding childcare for 48 weeks of the year, the Offer has been available all over Wales since April 2019. By January 2020, 14,600 children were being supported.