Thousands more parents to be offered free childcare
Thousands more parents will be able to access free childcare as a scheme is rolled out to more parts of Wales.
Working parents of three and four-year-olds will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare a week under the Welsh Government's flagship policy.
To be eligible all parents in the household must be working. Childcare providers need to join the scheme.
But some said it was unfair it would only be available in 14 of 22 council areas from September.
Pilot schemes are currently under way in the whole of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Caerphilly, Flintshire and Blaenau Gwent and parts of Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taff.
From September, it will be available in parts of Cardiff, Newport, Neath Port Talbot, Conwy and Wrexham and across the whole of Torfaen and Ceredigion. It will also be extended to the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taff.
- Parents 'not taking up' free childcare offer, figures show
- Free childcare too little, too late, says Mother Pukka founder
- Free childcare 'unintended consequence' concerns raised by Estyn
Childcare offer explained
- All children in Wales are already entitled to a minimum of 10 hours of free, part-time early education in a school, or funded nursery, in the term following their third birthday. This is usually provided in a local school, day-care setting or community centre
- The Childcare Offer for Wales is offering an additional 20 hours of childcare from registered providers who have signed up with the Welsh Government to be part of the scheme
- Parents will not be required to access their early education entitlement as a prerequisite to accessing the childcare element of the offer
- During the school holidays when there is no early education the offer will provide 30 hours a week of childcare for up to 9 weeks
Who is entitled to it?
- All parents of three and four-year-olds can already access the early education entitlement
- To be eligible for the additional 20 hours childcare offered by the Childcare Offer for Wales you must have a child within the age range and earn on average a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage
- If you are in a lone parent family you need to be working and if you are in a two parent family you both need to be working.
- Currently the scheme is being piloted in seven areas and another seven will be added in September. The Welsh Government aims to roll-out the offer to the whole of Wales by 2020
Leona Mills who lives in Conwy is set to benefit from September: "It is a brilliant idea." she said.
"[Some women] have to be stay-at-home mums because they can't go to work."
She currently pays £64 a week for her child's two mornings in nursery.
However, Ffion Roberts, who runs a childcare centre in Ruthin, Denbighshire, questioned why it was only being rolled out in 14 of Wales' 22 local authority areas from September.
She described her area as "a desert in the middle" of other council areas where people can access it.
Ms Roberts said the £5,000 a year it could save parents on childcare was "a huge amount" and called for the scheme's roll-out in Denbighshire and the whole of Wales.
The policy, which was one of Labour's flagship manifesto commitments at the 2016 assembly elections, covers 48 weeks of the year and aims to remove "one of the main barriers to employment".
Children's minister Huw Irranca-Davies said: "Our ground-breaking childcare offer is making a real difference to parents right across Wales, reducing the strain on family income and helping ensure childcare is not a barrier to them taking up employment or increasing their hours."