Par­ents may have to wait for child­care

South Wales Echo - - News - MATT DISCOMBE Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter [email protected]­i­tymir­ror.com

PAR­ENTS in Cardiff may have to wait months longer than ex­pected to ac­cess the full 30 hours a week child­care of­fer next year – which is be­ing rolled out across Wales.

El­i­gi­ble par­ents in Wales will be able to ac­cess 12.5 hours of early years ed­u­ca­tion and 17.5 hours of child­care per week, for up to 48 weeks of the year, for chil­dren aged be­tween three and four years old.

Par­ents had been told the child­care will be of­fered from the begin­ning of the term fol­low­ing their child’s third birth­day.

A Welsh Gov­ern­ment re­port in June 2017 stated: “Chil­dren will re­ceive the child­care el­e­ment of the of­fer from the term af­ter their third birth­day un­til of­fered a full-time ed­u­ca­tion place, usu­ally the Septem­ber af­ter their fourth birth­day.”

But in Cardiff a cut off-date of March 31 is in place for ap­pli­ca­tions for child­care dur­ing the sum­mer term – which be­gins on April 29.

That means par­ents of chil­dren turn­ing three be­tween those dates won’t be able to ac­cess the full 30 days of child­care un­til Septem­ber, even though the sum­mer term be­gins af­ter their birth­day.

Cardiff coun­cil says it is us­ing the ap­proach set out in the Welsh Gov­ern­ment guid­ance, align­ing child care el­i­gi­bil­ity with the start dates for nurs­ery pro­vi­sion.

Welsh Gov­ern­ment says it will be “con­sid­er­ing the lessons” ahead of the na­tional roll-out of the of­fer.

Dr Andy Skyrme, whose son Ethan turns three on April 12, has been told his fam­ily has to wait un­til Septem­ber to ac­cess the free child­care and thou­sands of par­ents across Wales could be in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

Fa­ther-of-two Dr Skyrme, who lives in River­side, said miss­ing out on the child­care of­fer could see his fam­ily lose £642.50 a month.

He said: “Our child is be­ing pe­nalised based on his date of birth.

“If you had a fam­ily next door on the same in­come whose child was born be­fore March 31 they will be bet­ter off by thou­sands of pounds.”

Ni­cola Skyrme, Ethan’s mother who is a prac­tice nurse at a GP surgery, was due to work an ex­tra day a week, ex­pect­ing the 30 hours a week child­care would be of­fered in the sum­mer term.

Dr Skyrme said he may have to take a lot of his an­nual leave to look af­ter Ethan un­til Septem­ber.

He said: “It’s go­ing to im­pact on our qual­ity of life.

“We’re both pro­fes­sion­als but we’re not earn­ing huge amounts. Liv­ing in a city like Cardiff is an ex­pen­sive busi­ness.”

A Cardiff coun­cil spokes­woman said: “The Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s free 30 hours of­fer is made up of the new child­care pro­vi­sion and ex­ist­ing free foun­da­tion phase nurs­ery ed­u­ca­tion.

“In or­der to en­sure that el­i­gi­ble chil­dren and par­ents can ac­cess 30 hours per week of com­bined child­care and foun­da­tion phase nurs­ery ed­u­ca­tion, Cardiff is us­ing the ap­proach set out in the Welsh Gov­ern­ment guid­ance, align­ing child­care el­i­gi­bil­ity with the start dates for nurs­ery pro­vi­sion.

“There­fore, chil­dren born be­tween Jan­uary 1, 2016, and March 31, 2016, will be el­i­gi­ble for the of­fer from the 2019 sum­mer term while chil­dren born af­ter March 31, 2016, will be el­i­gi­ble from the 2019 au­tumn term.”

MATT CARDY

A new child­care of­fer is be­ing rolled out across Wales

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