The roll-out of funded education and childcare in Wales will come under the spotlight of Denbighshire councillors today (Thursday).
In 2017 the Welsh Government (WG) pledged to offer 30 hours a week of funded early education and childcare to eligible working parents of three and four year olds, for 48 weeks of the year by September 2020.
The government have confirmed that Denbighshire County Council can begin to deliver the Childcare Offer to families from April 2019 and have agreed to work with the council with the aim of making the offer available across the county at the same time, rather than on a phased ward by ward approach.
Children will be eligible to access the offer from the beginning of the term following their third birthday until the September following their fourth birthday.
Eligible children will be entitled to up to 20 free hours of childcare during term time in addition to the 10 hours already provided by the Foundation Phase. During the school holidays, when there is no early education, the offer will provide 30 hours a week of childcare for up to nine weeks.
Parents are able to choose any registered childcare setting that suits their personal and family circumstance, whether inside or outside of county, in agreement with the provider and the local authority.
At their meeting today members of the Communities Scrutiny Committee will be asked to endorse the proposed cross-county delivery plan with Flintshire County Council being the authority delivering the scheme on behalf of Denbighshire.
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children, Young People and the Welsh Language, said: “The aim of the Childcare Offer is to allow eligible parents to have more employment choices, increase their disposable income to help counteract poverty for those in low paid jobs and ensure that quality early education and childcare is provided to promote child development and school readiness.
“The Childcare Offer is not means tested and will be available to all working parents who reside permanently in Wales and earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours at national living wage or national minimum wage.
"Denbighshire will have the role of ‘Engagement Authority’ with responsibility for promoting the offer to parents and childcare providers within the County, training staff to deal with enquiries on the Offer and providing Flintshire with information they require to process applications and administer the offer. Denbighshire will receive specific grant funding to deliver this function.
“We have already expressed concern that Denbighshire was not included in the last round of the roll-out of the scheme and have held constructive talks with the Welsh Government to ensure that Denbighshire families are not disadvantaged by the offer. The matter will now go before the Scrutiny Committee for further discussion."