Critical workers in Wales will be offered free childcare for pre-school children to support keeping more staff at work during the coronavirus crisis, the Welsh Government has announced.
Wales will now suspend its 30 hours of free childcare assistance for three months and replace it with the ‘coronavirus childcare assistance scheme’ – available to essential workers.
Last month, the UK Government asked schools to close except to the children of key workers to prevent their parents having to take time off work.
Under this provision, councils will be able to use their funding to ensure parents of children under the age of five can get access to free registered childcare.
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care, Julie Morgan, said: ‘It’s of paramount importance that parents who are critical workers – those on our frontline – do not face barriers in the fight against coronavirus.
‘We’re at a point where most families are caring for their children at home, so now it makes sense to look at what more we can do with our childcare funding, especially in support of those working on our frontline.’
The Department of Education has asked childcare providers, schools and colleges to stay open and look after the children of key workers during the Easter break.
In Scotland, the Government has announced learning and childcare hubs ‘will’ stay open during the holidays. The number of open hubs will ‘vary’ between each council area depending on demand.
Education Secretary John Swinney said: ‘Clearly these are unprecedented times and this will be a very different Easter holiday period for teachers and pupils across the country. I would like to thank all of those who have volunteered to provide support over this time.
‘Our key workers are on the frontline of the response to coronavirus and it’s only right that we do everything we possibly can to support them.’