Coronavirus: Wales prioritises critical workers for free childcare

The Welsh Government’s childcare offer is being re-directed to provide free care for the children of critical workers. Children who are considered vulnerable will also be included.

The Coronavirus Childcare Assistance scheme to support critical workers and vulnerable children is temporarily replacing the existing childcare offer in Wales, which provides 30 hours of early education and childcare to the working parents of three and four-year olds for 48 weeks of the year. This arrangement will last for three months.

The Welsh Government says it will honour its commitment to continue to pay childcare providers for the hours of childcare already booked under the childcare offer during this time. 

Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care Julie Morgan, said: ‘It’s of paramount importance that parents who are critical workers – those on our frontline – do not face barriers in the fight against coronavirus.

‘We’re at a point where most families are caring for their children at home, so now it makes sense to look at what more we can do with our childcare funding, especially in support of those working on our frontline.

‘The Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme will ensure parents, who are critical workers, will get the childcare they need, and childcare providers will have security about how their businesses will operate.'

At National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: ‘While we welcome the immediate funding to nurseries who are open, when the country starts to return to business as usual we will need providers and their teams to be ready and in place to deliver childcare for working families. The Welsh Government has extended the small business grant scheme to more nurseries, which will also be a welcome relief for many in the short term.

‘Childcare providers are facing incredibly challenging times, both trying to remain open to provide emergency childcare but also thinking of their long-term survival. There are still unanswered questions about the ability of nurseries to be able to rotate their staff to stay open. Even if nurseries can furlough staff they still have rents, mortgages and other costs to think about. In this climate, many nurseries that close don’t know whether they will be able to re-open again.

‘The new fund is currently only available to those businesses that are VAT registered, which many nurseries aren’t able to do. We need the Welsh Government to recognise this gap in the support to all childcare businesses to provide access to this extra help at this critical time.’

Guidance about the new arrangements in Wales are to follow soon.

 

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