Plaid considers £300m childcare expansion

girls in nursery Plaid Cymru says it wants to make childcare affordable to all parents

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Plaid Cymru is considering a plan to offer all three to four-year-olds full-time Foundation Phase education.

It is currently available on a part-time basis.

The proposal, estimated to cost £300m, is one of the childcare options it is consulting on for its manifesto for the 2016 assembly election.

Plaid's consultation paper says improving childcare is the best way of "equalising children's life chances" and helping parents go back to work.

Other options being considered include offering up to 20 hours of free childcare per week in addition to the existing ten hours of Foundation Phase places available, and providing 20 hours of free childcare for two-year-olds.

Plaid says it will consult on "various funding models, including potential EU funding, and reprioritising existing spending".

Party education spokesman Simon Thomas said putting more money into early years education was "the best way to improve Wales's economic fortunes".

"If we can get it right, we can equalise a child's life chances, so that nothing stands in the way of a child reaching his or her potential," he said.

"As well as being good for children, this is also good for parents.

"Childcare is often cited as one of the main reasons that parents feel they can't go back to work.

"Good childcare is expensive, but this could be the most important step we take to strengthening the economy," he added.

Plaid Cymru begins its spring conference in Cardiff on Friday.

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