£10 million funding for expansion of early years childcare announced
More families across Wales are set to benefit from free childcare after the Welsh Government committed to additional funding of £10 million.
The extra money is part of a phased plan to expand early years provision to all two-year-olds in Wales, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Welsh-medium provision and is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
The new investment will see an additional 2,200 children benefit from Flying Start childcare in 2023-24.
The Flying Start scheme helps families with young children in the most disadvantaged areas of Wales and includes free, part-time quality childcare for children aged two to three living in those areas.
During 2023-24 and 2024-25 the Welsh Government will invest a total of £46 million in expanding the Flying Start project.
Phase 2 is expected to support over 4,500 additional places next year and an additional 5,200 places in 2024-25.
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan and Plaid Cymru Designated Member Siân Gwenllian announced the funding at a visit to Mount Stuart Primary School, in Cardiff.
The Deputy Minister said: “Developing high quality support for children and families in the early years has been a long-standing priority for the Welsh Government.
“I am delighted to announce a further £10 million in 2023-24 to extend the reach of this important scheme which will enable more children to access high quality childcare.
“This additional funding will make a considerable difference to the lives and outcomes of thousands of children and their families across Wales and offer opportunities for more children to access Welsh Medium provision.
“High quality learning and care in early years supports child development and plays an important role in supporting school readiness and addressing the attainment gap, particularly for children facing the greatest challenges.”
Plaid Cymru Designated Member Siân Gwenllian added: “Investment in the early years is a game-changer to address inequality and give children the best start in life. This new funding is the latest step in achieving our joint commitment to expand funded childcare to all two-year-olds with a particular focus on providing and strengthening Welsh-medium childcare.
“This extra £10 million of funding is part of our phased approach to rolling out this commitment that will make a real difference to people’s lives. This is about providing accessible childcare, benefiting children and their families, making a real difference to lives across the country.”
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Better quality, low or zero cost provision is essential to enable women of working age to take up or resume work or training. However do the politicians envisage a cap on numbers such as how many children can a mother put through such a system ?