In the first phase of the extension of high-quality childcare to all 2-year olds in Wales, the Flying Start programme is being expanded to 2,500 more children under the age of 4.
Expanding childcare to all 2-year-olds in Wales, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Welsh-medium provision, is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Speaking on a visit to Ringland Community Hub, in Newport, which provides Flying Start, Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said:
I have heard from parents and carers about the positive impact Flying Start has had on their families. We are committed to expanding early years provision and this excellent programme is the best way of delivering this.
We know children who attend quality early years settings benefit from spending time in a happy, nurturing environment with their peers and are better prepared for primary education.
This is an ambitious initiative, but it will make a profound difference to the lives of many Welsh families and help us reach our goal of achieving a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
And Designated Member Sin Gwenllian said:
This is a first step to achieving our ambition of providing early years education and childcare for all children in Wales.
Accessible childcare will make a difference; benefiting children and families up and down the country. It is vital boost for our communities and the right move to support our children.
Working together, our joint commitment is to expand funded childcare to all 2-year-olds with a particular focus on providing and strengthening Welsh- medium childcare. I look forward to us delivering this over the next 3 years.
From September, the Flying Start programme will be expanded to reach up to 2,500 more children aged 0 to 4 by increasing the Flying Start target areas in every local authority in Wales.
All children under 4 living in these areas will be able to access Flying Start services, including childcare for those aged 2 to 3. Eligible families will be notified by their local Flying Start team by the summer.
Once the Flying Start scheme has been fully rolled out, all families in Wales with children aged 2 to 3 years will be eligible for 12.5 hours of funded, high-quality childcare for 39 weeks of the year.
Plans for the larger expansion of childcare via Flying Start will be announced in the autumn.
To meet this target, existing Flying Start childcare providers will be supported to expand their reach, with work ongoing to encourage new providers, including those who specialise in Welsh-medium provision, to offer the programme.
Currently 36,000 children under four living in some of the most deprived areas in Wales, benefit from the programme with around 9,000 2-year-olds receiving funded, high-quality, part-time childcare.
An additional 20 million in funding has been allocated over the next 3 years to support the expansion.