Free childcare offer for working parents of three and four year olds to resume as lockdown eases

30 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds is set to return, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care has announced.

It was suspended in April to allow resources to be refocused to support the childcare needs of critical workers and vulnerable children as the pandemic broke out.

As of the last week of the school term, just over 9,000 children were accessing this scheme.

With lockdown restrictions easing in Wales, and schools returning from September, Deputy Minister Julie Morgan confirmed applications will reopen.

Parents who would have been eligible for the Offer in the summer term, but who missed out on a full term because they had not started taking up the Offer before the pandemic, will be able to submit their applications from mid-August. 

Applications from parents whose child becomes eligible for the Offer in the autumn term will be considered from the start of September onwards.

Details on the timing and how to apply will be available on local authority websites and through Family Information Services.  

Later this week updated guidance will be published for childcare settings on how they can operate safely, taking into account the First Minister’s announcement on Friday that children under 11 do not need to socially distance.

Julie Morgan said bringing the free childcare offer back will help parents and childcare providers alike.

“Many families will have suffered financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. Some workers will have been hit harder than others and we know that for many women childcare has been a real barrier in terms of their capacity to work. Bringing the Offer back will not only help parents, but it is crucial for providers too in supporting their businesses to recover after what has been a period of great uncertainty and anxiety for many.”

Funding childcare for 48 weeks of the year, the Offer has been available all over Wales since April 2019.

By January 2020, 14,600 children were being support.