PLANS to transfer the running of the four council run nurseries in RCT to other registered childcare providers have been approved.
Cabinet approved the proposal at a meeting on Monday, January 23 with the aim being to further improve the local childcare offer available to families and it is set to save the council around £322,000 a year
The cabinet report said that council run nurseries in their current form provide limited flexibility as part of the Flying Start offer in meeting the range of childcare needs of families within the communities they serve, especially working parents requiring full-time day care.
It said that the alternative service delivery options will provide opportunities to further improve the childcare offer such as offering out of school provision and wrap-around services.
The report said there is also a need for the council to ensure there are sufficient childcare places to support the roll out of the Flying Start expansion programme to all 2-3 year olds in Rhondda Cynon Taf in the coming years and to support the sector to prepare for this.
This has led to a review of how the service is delivered and the options considered included keeping it as it is, keeping Flying Start in all four nurseries and stopping the delivery of a day nursery at Pontypridd, keeping the three Flying Start nurseries in Aman, Tylorstown and Penrhys and transferring the running of the Pontypridd Nursery to an experienced registered childcare provider or transferring the running of all four council run nurseries to alternative experienced registered childcare providers (the chosen option).
Ynyscynon nursery was handed over to a new provider in October to deliver full time Flying Start provision to maintain continuity of provision for children already registered with the setting.
The provider also has plans to further develop the nursery and to expand the service to include full day care and wrap around services for the community so it can offer a range of flexible childcare options including childcare offer places for 3-4 year olds.
Officers think that doing nothing is not a viable option and the report said that without exploring the potential for re-designing the current childcare service delivery model in Rhondda Cynon Taf “it will not be possible to improve and extend the range of childcare provision for families in local communities in line with the findings of the latest Childcare Sufficiency Assessment to support more efficient service delivery and facilitate the roll out of the Flying Start Expansion programme”.
To find out what the capacity and capability of local providers is to deliver the proposed preferred option, a market testing exercise was done with the council’s nine commissioned Flying Start Childcare providers
The report said that the nine commissioned providers are able to demonstrate a sound track record of delivering the services being considered as part of the exercise and also have experience of the necessary CIW (Care Inspectorate Wales) registration arrangements.
The market testing was done between November 30 and December 20 last year where the nine providers were invited to submit an expression of interest for service transfer of one or more of the council run nursery settings.
Due to the small numbers registered in Penrhys and the close proximity of the Penrhys and Tylorstown settings, expressions of interest were sought for three potential lots including a combined Penrhys and Tylorstown, Aman and Pontypridd. Responses were received from seven of the nine providers.
The childcare providers were invited to meet with council officers to discuss their expression of interest further.
The report said that discussions were positive, focusing on the opportunities to further develop existing settings to offer a variety of childcare provision to meet local need within the area.
The report added: “Based on the engagement with providers, it is considered that there is sufficient capacity and capability in the local market to deliver the proposed preferred ‘Option 4 – transfer the running of all four Council run nursery settings to alternative experienced registered childcare providers.”
Councillor Rhys Lewis, cabinet member for education, youth participation and the Welsh language, said this is a “good way forward.”
He said they’re very lucky in RCT to have quite a large number of very good childcare providers in the third sector that are able to offer a greater range of services with more flexibility and also have access to larger pots of grant funding.
Cllr Lewis said it will have little or no impact on children and staff and that it is pleasing to see there is interest from childcare providers adding that the Ynyscynon was a good example.
Councillor Gareth Caple, cabinet member for health and social care, said this positive proposal will provide opportunities for the improvement of childcare provision allowing the extension of provision, flexibility, continuity and improved financial viability.
The report said that procurement will take place following approval and parents, families and staff will be kept fully informed of the process