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A new task group is to be set up to drive forward the assembly government's Childcare Action Plan, health and socia...
A new task group is to be set up to drive forward the assembly government's Childcare Action Plan, health and social services minister Jane Hutt and economic development minister Andrew Davies announced today.

Dr Brian Gibbons, the deputy minister for economic development, has been given the task of leading the new task group of experts in childcare. The group will look at ways of taking the childcare agenda forward in Wales and, in particular:

  • making sure that childcare businesses have appropriate business advice

  • using the European Structural Funds in a more strategic way to build childcare provision

  • action to build, train and develop the workforce.

    The initiative arose from discussion in the cabinet sub-committee on children and young people. Jane Hutt, who chairs the sub-committee, said: 'Childcare cuts across several of the assembly government's key themes. Good quality early years' experiences have been shown to play a major role in increasing the life chances of children, including in particular their educational attainment. Childcare is also a vital ingredient in the assembly's economic agenda and is a major factor in removing barriers to parents' and in particular mothers, working or training.

    'It is therefore central to our initiatives to deal with social deprivation, economic development and equal opportunities. That is why Andrew Davies and I are taking the issue forward jointly, reporting to the cabinet committee on children and young people. Brian Gibbons has a strong track record in taking forward initiatives of this kind and I look forward to seeing the outcome of his work.'

    Economic development minister Andrew Davies said: 'Childcare is important as a business sector in its own right, as well as a crucial factor in helping people into work. Childcare businesses need to know that they are able to access appropriate training and business support, from the childcare partnerships, from the local authority economic development departments , from the WDA, ELWa or from European Structural Funds.

    'We must also work to engage employers in our wider view of the role of childcare in our economy. Successful businesses will recognise that their employees must strike the right balance between the needs of their work and the needs of their life outside work. Employers who recognise that will retain expertise, motivation and effectiveness of their staff, and it will give them access to a wider pool of potential employees.'

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