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  1. ITV Report

Nurseries 'struggle to recruit staff' after Welsh Government's free childcare offer

Credit: ITV News

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is warning that the Welsh Government's offer of free childcare for all working parents is putting a strain on nurseries as it is rolled out across Wales.

The Welsh Government's Childcare Offer for Wales offers three and four-year-olds of working parents 30 hours of funded childcare and early education for 48 weeks of the year.

Credit: ITV Wales

The NDNA said nurseries are struggling to recruit enough qualified staff to meet the extra demand. They are also having difficulties with retaining staff, particularly experienced Level 3 qualified practitioners.

64%
of nursery workers who left their jobs in the past year were Level 3 staff.

Nursery manager Jackie Roberts said staff are being put under more pressure.

Jackie Roberts is a nursery manager in Bridgend. Credit: ITV News

A nursery nurse, I think people see us as just coming in and playing with children all day. Staff are on minimum wage, they work long hours, they've got a very responsible job. We're doing the job of teachers and that puts a lot of pressure on staff.

– Jackie Roberts, Old School House Nursery
Purnima Tanuku said 'more needs to be done' to support nurseries. Credit: ITV News

I think it is serious because as we move into 2020, when the whole offer is expanded across Wales, I think what is really important is to make sure that there are enough qualified, experienced and trained staff to be able to look after the children.

– Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of NDNA
Credit: ITV News

The Welsh Government said it agrees it is important to invest in the sector.

Last week we announced £60m of capital investment to support new and existing childcare settings across Wales to help deliver our ground-breaking Childcare Offer.

It’s very encouraging that this survey found the vast majority of day nurseries in Wales will be participating in the Offer; this shows that our partnership approach with the sector and local authorities is paying off. It’s also pleasing to see NDNA recognise the support that our enhanced small business rates relief scheme will provide to many nurseries across Wales...

We will be reviewing the rate that we pay for our childcare offer ahead of the national roll out, including an assessment of the impact of changes to the National Living Wage.
We are also working with the sector and local authorities on the delivery of the Foundation Phase and will be considering the impact of different funding rates.

– Welsh Government spokesperson