Lessons must be learned on the childcare offer for Wales – Assembly committee
The Welsh Government must learn lessons from the current childcare offer pilot in Wales and implement them before national roll out of the £100 million a year scheme, according to a National Assembly for Wales committee.
The Children, Young People and Education Committee today publishes its Committee Report on the general principles of the Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill.
Committee Chair, Lynne Neagle AM, said:
“We welcome the steps taken by the Welsh Government to legislate to make it easier for parents to apply for the childcare offer. However, we are concerned about the extent to which the proposed national childcare offer, facilitated by this Bill and being piloted in different areas of Wales at the moment, targets those most in need of support.”
“We agree with the Welsh Government that creating a national eligibility checking system, to be administered by HMRC, should make it more straight forward for parents to apply, and ease the administrative burden on local authorities.”
“However, we are concerned that restricting the Bill’s provisions to the children of working parents risks increasing the gap that already exists between our most disadvantaged and advantaged children in terms of their development and educational attainment.
“For this reason, we recommend that the Bill be amended to extend its provisions beyond working parents, to include parents who are seeking work by undertaking education and training linked to securing employment.
“We also think the Welsh Government should amend the Bill to enable other categories of parent to be included in the future.”
“We are also worried that focusing the offer on three and four-year-olds will hinder the Bill’s stated aim of getting parents, particularly mothers, back to work. With the Welsh Government’s own National Survey for Wales finding that the demand for childcare is highest between the ages of 1 and 3, we think consideration should be given to reviewing the target age group for the offer.”
Seven of the Committee’s eight Members support the general principles of the Bill. The report will inform the debate on the general principles which will be debated in a meeting of the full Assembly in September.
Read the full report:
Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill Committee Stage 1 Report (PDF, 1 MB)