Supporting childcare providers to become better businesses
CWLWM has developed toolkits on business, fundraising and legal status to help childcare providers become better businesses and become more sustainable. A number of ‘How to use it’ seminars have been delivered and have been very successful; more are planned in the future. Gender inequality in childcare settings, which are predominantly staffed by women and in a low-pay sector, is being addressed through empowering staff and supporting settings to become more sustainable in the long term. It is difficult to gauge how effective the toolkits will prove during the life of the project, but so far they have been met with enthusiasm and have received positive feedback. All of the toolkits will be supported and further developed long after the project ends.
Supporting Welsh language provision
Research has been conducted into Welsh language and bilingual provision in Wales. Areas have been targeted where Welsh provision is at its weakest, and a team of language support officers have been working alongside staff in settings to improve the Welsh language provision and confidence of staff. Gender inequality in childcare settings is being addressed through empowering staff – providing them with greater Welsh language skills and enhancing confidence within those staff. Feedback from staff in childcare settings has been very positive. Welsh language skills and confidence to use them have increased. This has had the additional effect of parents picking up more Welsh language through attending settings where language support officers have been working.
Supporting the development of dynamic and innovative training
A radical new model of play training has been developed that results in the participants receiving a qualification that demonstrates that they have the skills and knowledge to recognise the vital significance of play for all children and to be able to facilitate the play process effectively in any play space or setting. This model raises the standard of playwork practice and acts as a quality benchmark for other providers throughout Wales and beyond. It will challenge all playworkers, play trainers and developers to consider how best to improve the quality of their playwork training and practice. In addition, there has been a focus on highlighting the importance and value of outdoor play experiences for children, and raising the profile and accessibility of playwork as a profession. There has already been some very positive feedback from volunteers who have been piloting the new training. There has also been some less positive comment, which has been equally beneficial to shaping the training programme. It is hoped that the new model of training and the development of training in outdoor play will bring more men into playwork, a sector largely dominated by women workers.
Supporting local communities
CWLWM has been working with ten Communities First partnerships to identify how best to support them in their work. By working with local residents and agencies, long-term prevention action plans have been being developed, looking at early years interventions and childcare. CWLWM has enabled a greater understanding by Communities First Partnerships in particular, and all those involved in Communities First across Wales in general, on long-term prevention issues and use of risk and protection factors in service planning. A guidebook that will help Communities First Partnerships address these issues will be available to all Communities First Partnerships. CWLWM has also held a conference, aimed at policy makers, which looks specifically at the issue of engaging local communities in community-led childcare and early years interventions programmes.
Employment and workforce development
CWLWM has conducted research aimed at identifying alternative solutions to the problems of viability and sustainability in childcare provision. Research has looked at employer-sponsored childcare and employer consortiums, and the range of childcare subsidies available at local, national and transnational level. CWLWM is currently finalising a review of strategic planning processes for childcare and report on good practice childcare models. During this extensive research CWLWM has developed and tested new ways of consulting parents to assess their childcare needs (other than by questionnaire), through a series of focus groups facilitated by experienced researchers. CWLWM has also worked with employers to assess their employees childcare needs. From this research the research experts will train the member of the Childcare Task Group, who work together to deliver the annual targets set out in the childcare plan, to be more effective in their strategic planning methodology and activity in order to meet parents' unmet and ongoing childcare needs. CWLWM is supporting the workforce development needs of the sector, and raising the profile of childcare as a profession. A DVD and bilingual booklet has been created around working in childcare; these will assist in promoting the diversity of the workforce, including men in childcare and promoting older people to work in the childcare sector. The project will empower people to choose a career in childcare and encourage new workers into the sector.
The work of CWLWM has been mainstreamed through a number of ways. The DP is made up of many national associations who have an all-Wales remit. Mainstreaming is through their existing networks. In addition, dedicated CWLWM roadshows were held, together with an international conference targeting all stakeholders. As lead partner, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Children’s Strategy Division has been promoting outputs and outcomes to their wide range of contacts.