MORE childcare spaces are needed for Ceredigion families with a recent assessment of the sector highlighting “significant gaps.”
Demand for childcare provision outstrips supply in the county and steps to improve the situation need to be taken by Ceredigion County Council in its role as supporter to the sector, along with Welsh Government interventions.
A childcare sufficiency assessment 2022-27 has been prepared in line with the statutory duty to produce one every five years, which will be presented to Welsh Government in June, and that includes an action plan to support development.
The assessment shows a drop in registered childcare places of 375 and 25 providers since the last assessment in 2017 with 1,570 registered places currently available with 91 providers and in June 2021 the percentage of under 12s attending childcare was 22.44 per cent.
Childcare strategic manager Carys Davies told members of the learning communities overview and scrutiny committee on March 2 that there had been a great deal of work done by her small team, including disturbing nearly £1.5million in grants to a range of providers and processing childcare funding applications for parents in Powys and Pembrokeshire as well as Ceredigion.
There was a need to ensure that the county is ready for the roll out of the extended childcare offer for two-year-olds as planned by Welsh Government and to “work in partnership with all existing and future Childcare providers to ensure sufficiency of places is available to meet the demand.”
Gaps to be address include an insufficiency of after school; holiday and full-day care provision; childminders; no full-day care provision in the south of the county; no sessional facility in Lampeter; cost and location barriers; support for children with additional learning needs;and providers facing recruitment problems especially finding staff who speak good enough Welsh.
Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones said there was an urgent need to address the issues, and asked if further public consultation was necessary, however the committee heard that it was required and the draft assessment will be discussed publicly before cabinet approval.