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As a working parent to young children I know just how expensive childcare costs can be. When I had my eldest daughter the cost of childcare was prohibitive and we had very little money left over after paying bills.
Luckily for working parents in Wales today the Childcare Offer for Wales means that they will have more money in their pockets as most working parents will be entitled to help with childcare costs from the government. I know I could think of a lot of things I could spend that extra money I’d be saving on!
WHAT CAN YOU CLAIM FOR?
Under the Childcare Offer for Wales you can claim for help with childcare costs for children aged 3 or 4 if you are a working parent.
You can claim up to 30 hours a week education and childcare for up to 48 weeks of the year. This means that you can claim for childcare costs for a portion of the school holidays too.
These 30 hours are made up of a minimum of 10 hours of early education and up to a maximum of 20 hours of childcare. Each local authority offers a different amount of early education so your entitlement might vary according to where you live. Ask your local Family Information Service for more information.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO THE CHILDCARE OFFER?
- Working parents of children aged 3 or 4 years old in Wales.
- You need to be earning at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage.
- Each parent has to earn less than £100,000 a year.
- Single parents must be working.
- Both parents in a two parent family must be working.
- Parents on statutory leave such as maternity leave will also be entitled.
- Self-employed parents and those on zero hours’ contracts must prove their eligibility with relevant documents.
- Kinship carers and foster carers might also be eligible.
WHERE CAN I USE THE CHILDCARE OFFER?
You can use the Offer at hundreds of childcare providers across Wales.
The early education part is usually provided through schools in a foundation phase nursery, though it is available in some childcare providers as well. Ask your local Family Information Service how it works in your area.
The childcare portion is available through childcare providers such as nurseries, child minders, playgroups and out of school childcare. Make sure that the provider you choose has opted into the scheme.
You can choose a Welsh, English or bilingual childcare provider.
WILL CLAIMING THE CHILDCARE OFFER AFFECT MY BENEFITS?
Families where one parent gets certain benefits may also be eligible. You will need to notify the Department for Work and Pensions that you are receiving the Offer as it might affect your benefits.
If you need more information on benefits and the Childcare Offer for Wales get in touch with your local Family Information Service or take a look at the government website here.
ARE THERE ANY EXTRA COSTS?
The Childcare Offer for Wales won’t cover additional costs such as transport, food or activities that take place off site, so these might incur an extra cost.
WANT MORE OR LESS THAN 30 HOURS?
The Childcare Offer won’t cover more than 30 hours and you can’t swap the education portion for the childcare portion and vice versa. You can of course pay for additional childcare hours on top of your Offer entitlement.
You don’t have to use all 30 hours in one week but you can’t save the portion that you didn’t use for another time.
THE BENEFITS OF THE CHILDCARE OFFER FOR WALES
The benefits of the Offer are huge and working parents will benefit greatly from the extra money that this will leave them with. It is a great incentive for parents to work as it means that childcare costs will no longer be prohibitive. Children will benefit too from early years education and socialisation with their peers in childcare settings.
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