Flintshire County Council's Cabinet will receive an updated report on the Council's early implementation of the Welsh Government's Childcare Offer and be asked to acknowledge the progress made when it meets later this month.
Flintshire was one of six Councils whose bid to become an early adopter was successful and the offer will be piloted from September 2017 in Flintshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Swansea, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The aim of the 30 hour childcare offer is to mitigate against the effects of poverty and reduce inequalities. The offer is designed to be inclusive and so children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)/Additional Learning Needs (ALN) will be supported to access their place.
Flintshire, along with the other authorities, has worked with Welsh Government to develop local models for the national roll out of the funded childcare offer and the first children have started this month.
The initial areas for the Flintshire pilot are: Buckley, Bagillt and Broughton and within areas of Aston, Connah's Quay (Central and Golftyn), Garden City, Greenfield, Higher Shotton, Holywell (Central), Mancot, Queensferry and Sandycroft. This will test the offer in areas of low and high employment, across travel to work routes, including travel outside Wales and through a mixture of maintained and non-maintained settings.
To date, Flintshire has received 152 applications and has been successful in automating the application process enabling parents to register on line and self-select registered childcare providers from the registered 122 providers. This online system has been reviewed by Welsh Government who deem it cost effective and compliant with data protection requirements. The original figure of 441 children is extended to a potential 748 children, with the aim to maximise the grant for Flintshire families.
Flintshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Social Services, Councillor Christine Jones, said:
"I am delighted that Flintshire has developed and implemented this exciting pilot scheme for young children and their parents. The work done to date has been outstanding and there is continuing work to ensure that the scheme is a success. An advisory group has been established in Flintshire and it meets regularly to develop the offer and provide guidance and direction to the project team. The advisory group has representatives from organisations such as Flying Start, Family Information Service, Early Entitlement, childcare development and childcare umbrella organisations."
Some of the objectives for the future include:
Â· Continuing to enhance the online system;
Â· Maximising the take-up of the offer with continued promotion and publicity; and
Â· Holding a workshop to update providers on the local development of the scheme.