The Welsh Government has published new Childcare Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities to carry out their duties in relation to providing sufficient childcare and information for parents.
NDNA Cymru has worked with the Welsh Government on this information which replaces guidance last published ten years ago.
NDNA’s views have been taken into account to refine the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment process which should result in:
- A more consistent and standardised approach to collecting data for childcare provision
- local authorities managing this data more effectively
- more information about the information that needs to be captured
- a more proportionate approach
- better planning and assessment locally and nationally
Sandra Welsby, National Manager for Wales, said: “As NDNA Cymru is a member of the Childcare Working Group in Wales, we welcome this comprehensive guidance to providing sufficient childcare in which private, voluntary and independent nurseries are very much involved.
“We want local authorities to ensure they support the sustainability of the sector. It is also important that local authorities sustain existing provision and do not seek to duplicate that provision.
“Childcare assessment is not just about making sure there is sufficient childcare across the local authority area, but also getting the right mix of types and flexibility of provision, with any gaps identified and plugged. For example, making sure there is sufficient holiday childcare for parents and sessions which fit in with working patterns.
“This flexible childcare needs to be responsive to parents’ needs, to give them choice so that each family can get the best care for their family’s needs.
“We also note that the guidance includes looking at workforce development and training needs which is crucial in delivering quality early years learning that will give all children equal life chances.
“Our latest annual survey report shows that nurseries in Wales are struggling to remain sustainable due to increased business costs and dwindling numbers. Currently just 47% of private, voluntary and independent nurseries are commissioned by local authorities to deliver free Foundation Phase places, which is seriously limiting parental choice.
“Local authorities must involve the sector in delivering these funded places, especially looking to future expansion of funded childcare.”
Section 4.10 of the guidance states that local authorities’ funds should be used strategically to support childcare providers in meeting the qualifications requirements as set out in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare (NMS).
Sandra continued: “NDNA Cymru can help local authorities in delivering training on Continuous Professional Development, Food Hygiene and Business Support and Management.”