News | Richard Gurner | Published: 13:25, Wednesday August 5th, 2020.
Last updated: 15:02, Tuesday August 11th, 2020
A scheme offering 30 hours of childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds is to return, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Childcare Offer, as it is known, was suspended in April this year with funds going towards childcare for key workers and looking after vulnerable children.
Working parents of three and four-year-olds can claim up 30 hours of early-years education and childcare a week for 48 weeks.
Parents who would have been eligible for 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 also 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.
Parent Sara Powell-Davies, from Caerphilly, told BBC Wales it had been really hard to manage without the scheme’s help during the pandemic.
The mother-of-two said the scheme saves the family around £200 a month in childcare costs.
She said: “It does make a massive difference to our finances every month.”
Children Tirion, three, and one-year-old Cadel both attend Britannia Day Nursery on Caerphilly Business Park.
Providers such as these are paid £4.50 per hour per child through the scheme.
Without that money it has been operating at a loss throughout the pandemic.
Director Lynn Bourne told BBC Wales that she hoped the return of the scheme would help parents bring children back.
She called for more help from Welsh Government for child carers.
She said: “Nurseries are closing every week.
“We seem to be a forgotten industry, but we’re so important.”
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care Julie Morgan announced the return of the scheme yesterday.
She said: “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.”
The deputy minister said many families had been hit hard financially and bringing the scheme back would help parents back to work and help childcare businesses recover.
Caerphilly’s Senedd Member Hefin David welcomed the scheme’s return and said: “I hope it will help ease some of the worries of parents and allow people to start thinking about the future again.
“If any parent of a three or four-year old has any questions about this that I can help with, then they are welcome to get in touch.”
The Welsh Government scheme was originally launched in April last year and by January 2020, 14,600 children were being supported.
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