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Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids' Clubs write to the Education Minister
[12/06/2020]

Please see the letter that Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs has written to the Kirsty Williams MS – Education Minister asking her to consider the implications of not supporting the CIW registered Out of School Childcare Clubs as they revive and look to reopen on the 29th. We ask for her to discourage the use of unregulated Holiday Activity clubs and to ask her to support the revival of the childcare sector .

 

Kirsty Williams MS

Welsh Government
5th Floor
Ty Hywel
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1NA

Dear Minister,

Support for Registered Out of School Childcare Clubs

Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs welcomed your announcement of the 3rd June, allowing the Out of School Childcare sector to prepare, alongside schools to revive and start re-opening from the 29th June.

Out of School Childcare settings working in conjunction with schools, will allow parents to return to work confident in the knowledge that their children are cared for in a safe, stimulating environment by qualified Playworkers who will be equipped with resources and knowhow to support them, in what will ultimately be an unsettling time for them. Settings opening will also allow them to reinstate themselves as in integral part of Wales’ foundational economy.

Throughout the past few months, Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs has been listening to the challenges and concerns of the Out of School Childcare Sector. Initially, many of these were short term and immediate, including sourcing funding, furloughing staff and confusion over guidance and legislation. However, as businesses look to the future and what the remainder of 2020 is going to potentially hold for their services, one of the overriding concerns is that of places take up.

The Childcare Sector as a whole, whilst providing essential services to support the recovering economy faces an anticipated significant drop in take up. A rise in unemployment, affordability issues (particularly with uncertainty over the Childcare Offer), parent/carer fears over sending children back to schools/childcare and more employers considering home working as short (and in some cases longer) term solutions are all likely to have a detrimental effect on our Sector.

This is why now more than ever, it is essential that we (Welsh Government, Local Authorities, communities, schools) support registered childcare (or childcare working towards registration) over unregulated alternatives. Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Registered Out of School Childcare Providers have already had to overcome barriers to achieving and sustaining registration. These include employing and retaining suitably qualified staff, accessing registerable venues and encouraging sufficient take up of places to support the expenditure required of adhering to policies, procedures and staffing ratios. Many of these issues have been further amplified by the current pandemic.

An Out of School Childcare Provider could overcome all of this, only to have an unregulated activity club, set up in the local area and offer free or significantly cheaper places. This will be the final nail in the coffin of a Sector that is struggling as it is to survive. In one breath we as a Nation are stating the need for registered childcare, reinforcing its importance through financial schemes such as Tax Free Childcare and the working elements of Universal Credit or Working Families Tax Credits, or indeed the Welsh Governments Childcare Offer, which are of course welcomed by the sector. However, in the next breath we are appearing to support unregulated competitors – with Local Authorities promoting unregulated clubs/schemes on social media, and with local schools disseminating flyers advertising Holiday Activity Camps. This is creating disillusionment, frustration and a feeling of betrayal for Providers who have passionately worked so hard to put the needs of their community first, often without much in the way of financial incentive to do so.

Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs continues to welcome the review of the National Minimum Standards (NMS) and Exceptions, as well as encouraging a holistic approach to Welsh Government schemes and priorities to ensure that they do not have a detrimental effect on our foundational sector. To enable our Sector to survive, revive and thrive in the future, there needs to be a clear, consistent and unanimous message that Wales values and prioritises the Early Years, Childcare and Play Sector and the essential role that it will play in the economic recovery following COVID-19.

Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs requests that you support the Registered Out of School Childcare Sector by actively discouraging the development or use of unregistered Holiday Activity Clubs or other unregulated alternatives during the revival and reopening post Covid-19 restrictions.

Yours sincerely

Jane O’Toole

Chief Executive Officer.

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