NDNA Cymru publishes early years and childcare election manifesto
This election represents a chance for the next Welsh Government to get it right for early years and childcare as National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Cymru has published key issues for children, families and nurseries ahead of the May elections.
NDNA Cymru’s manifesto, Getting it Right for Early Years and Childcare, focuses on improving the funding system for childcare places, recognising the value of the early years sector and extending business rates support for childcare settings.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Cymru, said: “This election is taking place at a crucial time for children, families and nurseries in Wales. As we look to respond and recover from the current pandemic all parties should have a clear focus on children’s earliest years.
“We know that access to high quality early education and care can make a huge difference to children’s life chances, which is why we want to see the system working for everyone.
“Despite being open and delivering critical childcare throughout the pandemic, nurseries are still facing an uncertain future. They are struggling to cover costs, which continue to rise, while attendance levels are still lower than before Covid-19 struck.
“Government funding rates need to keep pace with increasing costs and any political promises to increase offers to parents must be fully costed to be deliverable. Without the right funding, nurseries will become unsustainable and won’t be there to support families or deliver the high quality care and education that children need.
“The current system is too complicated for both parents and providers. Families in Wales have among the lowest uptake of Tax Free Childcare and one of the reasons is simply paperwork. The administration of different childcare systems also puts additional burdens on nurseries when they could be focussing on the children.
“We want to see all funding follow the child it’s intended to support with a family-centred childcare account for each child. This would mean all government funded hours, Tax Free Childcare, and Universal or Tax Credit payments can be directed straight to the childcare providers parents choose.
“And with business rates relief for nurseries due to end next year we want to see commitments that this will be extended, so nurseries can invest in high quality learning and care for children.
“This is a critical time for the Welsh economy and families and children across the country. This pandemic has shown just how crucial early learning and childcare is to the national infrastructure.
“We must invest properly in children’s futures and that means, ensuring the funding is right, follows the child and that we are not putting additional financial burdens on nurseries at this crucial time.”
The manifesto outlines the difficulties that both the childcare sector and families encounter, as funding rates haven’t increased but delivery costs continue to rise. At the same time, families are forced to navigate the complex landscape of funding and financial support for childcare places.
It calls for four urgent steps to get early years and childcare right for Wales’ children, families and nurseries:
- The right funding for childcare places
- The right funding system – a single childcare account for families
- The right recognition for the value of the early years sector
- The right support with business rates.
The next Welsh Government should:
- Fully cost its plans for childcare and ensure funding increases annually to cover the costs of nurseries providing high-quality care and learning
- Work with NDNA Cymru, the sector and UK government to create a family-centred Childcare
- Passport for all early years funding
- Continue to support all types of childcare providers to deliver the best possible early childhood care and education through curriculum delivery, support for workforce development and maintaining investment
- Commit to extending the 100% business rate relief for registered childcare businesses – so nurseries can invest in high quality learning and care.
- early years
- supporting families
- tax free childcare
- Welsh Government