Par­ents to wait ‘months’ for free child­care

Western Mail - - NEWS -

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 ear­lyyears 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 have 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 full­time 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 child­care 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.

Fa­ther of two Dr Skyrme, who lives in River­side, said: “It’s go­ing to im­pact on our qual­ity of life.”

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