Parents may have to wait for childcare
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.”
A new childcare offer is being rolled out across Wales