AN Assistant Children’s Minister has said making childcare more affordable is her ‘highest priority’.
Deputy Louise Doublet said that a report would be published in the second quarter of this year ‘on the current state of the system’, which would include ‘evidence of good practice’ and policy options.
Her comments come after the UK government announced a major extension to free childcare this week, which means all parents in England of children aged nine months to five years old would receive 30 free hours of childcare per week by September 2025.
The news was welcomed by Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel chair Catherine Curtis, who said extending free childcare in Jersey would help address the Island’s recruitment crisis and ease the financial strain on parents, which has previously been compared to a ‘second mortgage’.
Currently in Jersey and the UK, only parents of children aged three and four are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare.
Deputy Doublet said: ‘Making quality childcare more affordable is my highest priority because it is one of the biggest cost-of-living pressures for families.’
She added: ‘I continue to work with officers and fellow ministers (including the Cost of Living Ministerial Group) to address this issue. This includes having regular meetings with the Jersey Early Years Association to keep me informed of the challenges they are facing.
‘I am considering the system as a whole and am working on policy interventions which maintain our excellent quality of childcare provision, while also helping ease the pressure on families.
‘In the second quarter of this year, I’ll be publishing a report on the current state of the system which will include evidence of good practice, and policy options. I will consider these options in full partnership with the early years sector. Any additional funding would need proposal by the Council of Ministers and be announced in line with the future Government Plan.’