Paid collaboration with the Welsh Government and the Childcare Offer for Wales
As working parents, we’re very aware of the cost of childcare. We were fortunate that while I was working full time as a teacher, we were able to combine grandparent care with paid childcare. However, many families rely solely on professional childcare and can feel overwhelmed by the cost.
Thankfully the Childcare Offer for Wales aims to make life a bit easier for most working parents of 3 or 4 year-olds by offering help with childcare costs. Read on to find out all about the Childcare Offer for Wales and to find out if you may be eligible:
What is the Childcare Offer for Wales?
In Summary, the Childcare Offer for Wales was introduced in 2017 and since then has been rolled out all across Wales. Under the Childcare Offer for Wales, parents could claim 30 hours of early education and childcare a week, for up to 48 weeks of the year. The aim is to give working parents a bit of extra money every month, to spend on the things that are important to their family.
The Offer has already helped parents from all over Wales to return to work, increase their hours or work more flexibly. Others are taking training opportunities to develop their skills, change their job or even start their own business.
Am I Eligible for the Childcare Offer for Wales?
You may be eligible to apply for the Childcare Offer for Wales if:
- your child is aged 3 or 4 years old
- you earn the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week
- you and your partner both earn less than £100,000 per year
- you are a working single parent
- both you and your partner work
- you are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract (please note, you will need to prove your status and provide relevant documents)
- you are employed or self- employed but on statutory leave, for example, maternity leave
- you are a foster carer or kinship carer.
What’s included in the Offer?
The Welsh Government’s Childcare Offer for Wales means that most working parents of 3 or 4-year-olds can now claim funds towards the cost of 30 hours early education and childcare.
The 30 hours is made up of a minimum of 10 hours of early education a week and a maximum of 20 hours a week of childcare. The exact amount of childcare you get depends on how much early education your local authority offers – your local Family Information Service can let you know what the Offer means for you where you live.
It’s available for up to 48 weeks of the year, meaning that the Offer can help you with childcare cover for some of the school holidays.
Hundreds of nurseries, childminders, Cylch Meithrin, playgroups and crèches are now on board with the Offer, which means you can choose a childcare provider in your area that best meets you and your child’s needs. Remember to check that your chosen childcare provider is registered with Care Inspectorate Wales, The Offer is available whether you want to access English, Welsh or bilingual childcare (if you’re interested in finding out about the benefits of your child learning Welsh, please see Cymraeg i Blant).
How and When Can I Apply for the Childcare Offer for Wales
Eligible children can access the Childcare Offer for Wales from the beginning of the term following their third birthday, up until they are eligible to begin full-time education. Do not apply more than 8 weeks before your child’s start date at a childcare setting.
For example, in Pembrokeshire, if your child was born between 1st January 2017 – 31 March 2017, they can access the offer from Summer Term (April 2020), applications open 24th February 2020.
Your local authority’s Family Information Service will be able to tell you exactly how to apply – you can find their details via this link. https://gov.wales/find-your-local-family-information-service
In Pembrokeshire, you can apply here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/the-childcare-offer-wales
What Information Do I Need To Hand When I Apply?
Applications vary in different areas but in general, you will need to fill in the online application form, as well as providing a scan/photograph of your child’s birth certificate, parent(s) proof of residency (e.g. most recent Council Tax statement, bank statement or utility bill); agreed childcare providers hours and days; as well as employment details, for example, a scan/photo of the last three months of wage slips, employer’s contact details, or for those who are self-employed, a Self-Assessment Tax Return and unique tax reference (UTR) number (if self-employed for less than 12 months, UTR number only); or a scan/photograph of any Department for Work and Pensions letter or current employer’s letter that would qualify parents for the Childcare Offer if not currently in work.
How to Continue Accessing the Childcare Offer for Wales
If accepted, working parents will need to re-confirm they remain eligible for the Childcare Offer on a termly basis. For most families, this will only require responding to an e-mail, but a randomly selected proportion of families will be required to re-submit evidence of income.
How Do I Receive the Funds and Pay My Childcare Provider?
If your application is successful, the money will be paid directly to the childcare provider. You will not receive any money directly. The funding from the government is for the education and care the professionals within the setting provide only. It does not include extras such as food, transport or off-site activities and providers will be able to charge you for these. If providers normally charge parents per session, regardless of the number of hours the child attends, they can charge the full session under the Childcare Offer. Deposits/retainers/holiday pay may still apply and you should talk to your childcare provider about this and other extra charges before entering a contract with them.
Although working parents will not receive any money directly, they will be able to benefit from the extra money that they would have spent on childcare. This can be used to pay for things that are important to your family. Take a look at this fun video to see what Welsh toddlers said they would spend their extra money on:
As a working parent, I’m really pleased to know about this fantastic campaign to help most working parents of 3 or 4-year-olds have some extra money to spend – it will be a huge asset to many families.
Are you a working parent of a 3 or 4-year-old in Wales? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Childcare Offer for Wales.