Posted: Mon 17th Jul 2023

Flintshire Council fights back against falling numbers of childminders in county

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jul 17th, 2023

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A decrease in the number of childminders across Flintshire is leading the council to look at ways for encouraging people to consider the career.

When it meets this week, the council’s social and health care scrutiny committee will discuss a progress report from the authority’s chief officer for social services on childcare provision across Flintshire.

The council has a statutory duty to lead the provision of childcare locally in partnership with the private, voluntary, independent, community and maintained sector.

A childcare sufficiency assessment for 2022-2026 identifies clear areas of pressure, and gaps in Flintshire’s childcare offer.

Among the aims for the council going forward is to raise the profile of childcare as a career across Flintshire.

It hopes to increase recruitment and retention, and to support childcare providers to offer out of hours care particularly during school holidays, weekends, evenings and overnight where sustainable.

According to the report, recruitment and retention has been an issue in the childcare sector since the pandemic, and Flintshire has followed the national pattern across Wales in seeing the number of childminders decrease.

It also acknowledges that planning issues and restrictions have discouraged some Flintshire-based childminders from expanding their business.

The report states: “During the pandemic childcare workforce staff retention and recruitment has become an issue and continues to be so.

“This issue requires urgent attention as it is impeding on the ability of the sector to develop and grow to meet the requirements of new Welsh Government childcare initiatives.

“Business support also needs to be provided for childminders to retain numbers as this year has seen a decrease in the overall numbers of childminders, not only in Flintshire but across Wales.

“Locally some childminders, wishing to increase their numbers, have been deterred due to incurred costs from Flintshire’s planning department or requirements and restrictions imposed when childminders have attempted to increase their numbers.
“Every effort is being made to reach a solution for all parties.”

Attached with the report is an update on phase two of Flintshire’s Flying Start roll-out.

Flying Start is the Welsh Government early years programme targeted to families with children under four years of age in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

In Flintshire 1,500 children under four are current beneficiaries of the programme with over 300 children aged two to three benefitting from funded childcare provision annually.

During phase one services were expanded in the Buckley area, but the report acknowledges that other parts of the county lack provision.

It states: “Some areas have no or limited childcare available for two-year-olds. Specifically, there is limited provision in rural areas e.g., Mostyn, Fynnongroyw, Trelawnyd and Gwaenysgor.

“We are working to promote and develop provision in these areas.

“But this will require investment, a willingness for providers to establish childcare settings, including potential capital development, and time before we are able to ensure childcare sufficiency in these areas and this may lead to complaints from parents/carers wishing immediate access to provision within their community.

“As an interim mitigation, eligible families from these areas will be able to access childcare in other areas whilst the local infrastructure is developed. However, this will need to be closely monitored by the staff to ensure capacity and local impacts in areas of limited places e.g. Flint, Bagillt.”

Flintshire Council’s social and health care scrutiny committee meets this Thursday (July 20) to consider the report.

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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