Posted: Fri 28th Jan 2022

Call for changes to the way Welsh Government provides childcare offer to working parents

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 28th, 2022

The Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee has called for changes to the way the Welsh Government provides its childcare offer to working parents in a new report.

Published today, ‘Minding the Future: the childcare barrier facing working parents’ analyses the current system and concludes that parents in Wales face an array of barriers to accessing the care that they’re entitled to.

The report found that many parents are excluded from accessing any sort of childcare. Currently, a child from an unemployed lone-parent family, or a two-parent family where one or both parents do not work, is not eligible.

Parents working atypical hours, in insecure work, shift work or on zero-hours contracts face additional barriers; and parents whose working hours vary from week to week are unable to secure places in nurseries that are close to full capacity.

The Child Poverty Action Group Wales told the Committee that low-income families are particularly likely to be in atypical work and these complexities can act as a barrier to children accessing childcare.

The inquiry took evidence from dozens of affected parents as well as campaigning organisations in Wales. and found that parents of disabled children found it particularly hard to access support.

The report highlights that Childcare provision for children with disabilities has decreased significantly over the past year.

In their evidence, the Women’s Equality Network Wales cited figures from Coram Family and Childcare that places for children with additional needs fell “from 31% in 2020 to 19% in 2021” and that “38% of local authorities report not having enough childcare for disabled children anywhere in their local authority”.

With the Labour-Plaid Cymru Co-operation Agreement committing to expanding the existing childcare offer from 3- and 4-year-olds to including 2-year-olds, fixing the gaps in the current system must be a priority for the Welsh Government.

Jenny Rathbone MS, Chair of the Equality and Social Justice Committee, said, “We know that better childcare provision is key to tackling the gender pay gap and equal opportunities in the workplace.

“The current system doesn’t make it easy; parents are having to navigate a complex system to work out how they may be able to claim childcare support.

“Despite the Welsh Government’s best intentions, many parents who should be eligible for support are slipping through the cracks. The Government needs to respond urgently to our recommendations and prioritise fixing the gaps in the system.”

Laura Morgans, who works in a school and is a single parent from Ton Pentre, Rhondda, said, “When you go back to work after having a child, it’s completely up to you to sort out childcare – there’s no-one helping you, telling you where to go, who to ask.”

“I had no idea where to turn to and I was very fortunate that I found out my neighbour was a childminder. I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t for that piece of luck.”

“When my childminder is unavailable, I have no option but to take unpaid leave to care for my children as there is very little available in the form of after school clubs in my area. As a single parent living miles away from family I am dependent on paid childcare to be able to work.

“The current system doesn’t seem to realise what a challenge it is having children of different ages all needing looking after. I really hope things change to make it easier for people in my situation sooner rather than later.”

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