Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West, Sioned Williams, has urged the First Minister, Mark Drakeford to “take immediate action” to ensure equality for disabled children in the childcare sector.
This follows concerns raised by a constituent that adequate support is not being provided to parents of disabled children to accommodate for additional childcare costs.
During this week's First Minister’s Questions, Sioned Williams raised the case of a constituent who had been told to pay nearly £300 a day for her two high-needs autistic children to attend a childcare setting during school holidays – three times as much as the standard rate that the nursery charges – due to the fact that both children require 1-1 supervision.
Another constituent who contacted Sioned said: “The onus is on parent carers to figure it out. People just give up – they assume that it’s their lot. They are the ‘problem’ and their child is the ‘problem’. I have spoken to more and more parent carers who are trying to retain their careers but it is very stressful and most just give up.”
Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru's spokesperson for Social Justice and Equalities and Chair of the Senedd Learning Disabilities Cross-party Group said:
“Parents of disabled children are struggling to access suitable childcare due to a general lack of specialist placements, and the often prohibitive cost of such placements. It is clear that the information on any available support is very difficult to find and learning disability groups say that lack of suitable and affordable childcare is a common and longstanding problem.
“The Welsh Government have announced that it will review education and early years provision and identify barriers to support as part of its new learning disability action plan, and I welcome this. However, the Government must take immediate action to make much needed services and support accessible and available to parents of disabled children.”
Sioned Williams added:
“It is discriminatory and scandalous that parents are not better informed about any support that is available to them, and that they are being expected as a matter of course to pay more for childcare if their children are disabled – that is if they can find suitable provision in the first place.”
“In his reply to my question, the First Minister said that ‘If there are more ideas to do more in the future, then we are eager to hear them.’ I would therefore encourage parents, those in the disabled community and those working in childcare, to get in contact with me to share their experiences and views on what needs to be improved, and I will convey them to the Welsh Government.”