Plan for free child­care to help work­ing par­ents in Cardiff

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

PLANS to in­tro­duce a Welsh Gov­ern­ment scheme pro­vid­ing el­i­gi­ble work­ing par­ents of three- and fouryear-olds in Cardiff with 30 hours of free early years ed­u­ca­tion and child­care will be dis­cussed next week.

The of­fer in­cludes 12.5 hours of foun­da­tion phase nurs­ery and 17.5 hours of child­care at a par­tic­i­pat­ing provider each week dur­ing term-time and 30 hours of child­care per week for nine weeks of the school hol­i­days.

Par­ents in the “south­ern arc” of the city, in ar­eas such as Grange­town and Bute­town – where there is the high­est pro­por­tion of chil­dren in fam­i­lies claim­ing work­ing tax cred­its – are set to be the first re­cip­i­ents of the scheme dur­ing its ini­tial roll­out in Septem­ber.

The coun­cil will then iden­tify other ar­eas for the sec­ond phase of the scheme from Jan­uary next year.

Sarah Merry, Cardiff Coun­cil’s cabi­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and skills, said: “The coun­cil wants to make sure that ev­ery child in the city has the best pos­si­ble start in life, and through this of­fer, we have an op­por­tu­nity to sup­port chil­dren of work­ing par­ents and help them ac­cess part-time early ed­u­ca­tion places, through the pro­vi­sion of child­care.

“It is es­ti­mated that well over 1,000 chil­dren from work­ing fam­i­lies in the city would ben­e­fit from the ini­tial roll-out of the of­fer, sig­nif­i­cantly boost­ing the dis­pos­able in­come of those fam­i­lies and ty­ing in with our cap­i­tal am­bi­tion to tackle poverty and in­vest in life chances from an early age for all chil­dren, no mat­ter where they live in Cardiff.”

The scheme aims to en­able more par­ents, par­tic­u­larly moth­ers, to re­turn to work, in­crease the dis­pos­able in­come of those in work and help coun­ter­act poverty for those in low­paid jobs. The of­fer also aims to in­crease child de­vel­op­ment and school readi­ness.

Par­ents in Caerau and Ely, among other ar­eas, would also ben­e­fit from the free child­care of­fer dur­ing the ini­tial roll-out.

Cardiff Coun­cil’s cabi­net will con­sider ap­prov­ing Cardiff as an Early Im­ple­menter Lo­cal Au­thor­ity of the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s 30-hour child­care of­fer on Thurs­day. Coun­cil­lor Gra­ham Hinchey, cabi­net mem­ber for chil­dren and fam­i­lies, said: “The coun­cil is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing fam­i­lies and by be­com­ing an Early Im­ple­menter Lo­cal Au­thor­ity, we can make an in­cred­i­ble dif­fer­ence to el­i­gi­ble work­ing par­ents in the pilot ar­eas we have iden­ti­fied.

“For many fam­i­lies, the cost of child­care can be a bar­rier for those who want to re­turn to work.

“This of­fer would re­move that bar­rier and pro­vide more par­ents, par­tic­u­larly moth­ers, with the op­por­tu­nity to get back to work.”

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