The Welsh government has said that three thousand extra childcare places will be created for two-year-olds in Wales from April. The money for these different places in the Flying Start programme will be funded as part of £100m pledged by the Welsh government to improve availability. It is unknown which areas will benefit, and eligible families will be contacted in the new year.
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The Welsh Conservatives said more affluent families would benefit \”while the most deprived lose out\”. Of the remaining cash, £70m will pay to upgrade settings, and £3.8m will be spent on boosting Welsh language provision.
According to the Welsh government, the investment will \”help increase the number of high quality, affordable childcare places across Wales\”. It said this would, in turn, \”support parents into employment and help tackle child poverty\”.
The charity Action for Children welcomed the funding, which said it would make a \”huge difference\” to families.
But Shadow Education Minister Darren Millar said the Welsh government needed to do more to help struggling families. \”While it is welcome that some families will benefit from this extra funding, many more will not,\” he said.
\”This is because the criteria used to target Flying Start places fails to consider the needs of all our most vulnerable children.\” He added that the Welsh government should invest in a \”universal childcare offer\” to help all families.
The Flying Start programme provides free childcare, health and family support to families with children under four living in some of the most deprived areas of Wales.
The Welsh government hopes to increase the number of parents who can work by providing free childcare places. It also believes that improving childcare provision will help to tackle child poverty.
The £100m investment will be used to create 3,000 new childcare places, as well as to upgrade existing settings and boost Welsh language provision. This is in addition to the £70m already invested in the programme since it launched in 2007.
The Flying Start scheme currently supports around 13,500 children and their families across Wales. It is expected that the additional funding will help to increase this number to over 16,000 by 2020.
What do you think of this investment in free childcare? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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