Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies
Mudiad Meithrin's Chief Executive
In 2016, Mudiad Meithrin published a policy document for the Welsh Assembly elections. In this document, Mudiad called on all parties to consider:
“…Increasing the hours of available flexible childcare for children between 2 and 3 years old…with the additional benefit of closing the gap for children with additional needs who often receive an inadequate number of hours…This would support the objective of supporting parents back to the workplace, ensuring high quality care with economic, pedagogical and inclusive benefits.”
It was therefore with gladness that we learnt of the Welsh Government’s plan to introduce 30 hours of free childcare for children aged 3-4 years, where the parents are working 16 hours per week, as part of their plans leading up to 2021 (with the support of most opposition parties).
That said, a degree of trepidation was expressed by staff and committees in cylchoedd meithrin (Welsh-language playgroups) as they heard about the proposed plans as would be expected with any substantial change of this nature.
Here then are our Top 10 Tips for cylch meithrin staff and voluntary management committees on how to prepare for the change:
1. Are you in one of the 6 areas which will be part of the pilot scheme? These areas are: Gwynedd, Anglesey, Flintshire, Swansea, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent. Talk to your Mudiad Metihrin Support Officer if you are in one of these 6 areas to ensure you receive the latest news.
2. Keep an eye out online, on Twitter or on Facebook for relevant developments. Attend any local meetings or forums.
3. Ensure you have a business plan in place e.g. know your monthly income and expenditure. Your Support Officer will be able to assist with this.
4. Fundraising is a reality for most cylchoedd meithrin and you should have a schedule of regular fundraising events. Check out Mudiad Meithrin’s intranet, social media and the ‘Management Guidelines’ folder for loads of ideas.
5. You can contribute your comments to Welsh Government via the campaign #TalkChildcare. Maybe you have an opinion on the current 10 hour scheme (or the ‘Flying Start’ scheme). Help the government to plan this correctly: Click here for more information.
6. Consider applying for an ‘Awards for All’ Lottery grant to improve the cylch’s resources. Loads of cylchoedd get up to £5000 to buy or improve indoor and outdoor resources. Other funds are available (Health Lottery, Postcode Lottery, Aviva Fund etc.).
7. Make sure that staff are given every opportunity to gain a qualification or upskill (though ‘Cam wrth Gam’ where appropriate or through Mudiad Meithrin’s ‘academi’). This is an essential part of developing the workforce. You can view the ‘academi’ prospectus here:
8. Enrol the support of your local community. The cylch meithrin belongs to the community and so it is fair to expect them to support the work of the cylch meithrin (by volunteering on the committee, fundraising etc.). The cylch cannot exist without local support.
9. Does your cylch have a positive relationship with the local Welsh-medium school/s? In other words, is your relationship with the Welsh-medium school a strong one? There are many examples of cylchoedd developing “bridging” schemes together with local schools.
10. Keep in touch! Mudiad Meithrin update their Facebook and Twitter pages daily with news of various developments. Follow us at @MudiadMeithrin, ‘like’ us at Facebook and make use of our staff’s expertise!