The Government-run free childcare service may soon be open for longer thanks to a proposed extension in its opening hours meant to reach those families who start or finish work at different times.
With the extension, which will be under trial from October, childcare centres will be open between 6am and 6pm, an hour and a half earlier and the same amount of time later, in a departure from the current 7.30am to 4.30pm opening hours.
Additionally, the six childcare centres chosen for the trial will also be open on Saturdays.
The six childcare centres chosen are Il-Kuluri Childcare Centre (Birgu), Il-Ferrovija Childcare Centre (B’Kara), Pizzi Pizzi Kanna Childcare Centre (Naxxar), Il-Merill Childcare Centre (Pembroke), Żmeraldi Childcare Centre (Ħaż-Żebbug) u Ix-Xemx Childcare Centre (Qawra).
A search is underway for centres in Gozo in order to address Gozitans’ needs, the Ministry stated.
It expects the extension to lead to another 72 children being enrolled in the childcare system, representing an increase of 20 per cent for these centres.
The change is aimed to reach those families who could not previously make use of the service.
On 18th July a tender was issued to provide the additional human resources necessary for the extension.
The free childcare service supports families to work or continue their education, and since its introduction helped women in particular enter the workforce or continue their career despite having young children.
Currently around 385 children attend the 13 centres run by the Foundation for Education Services around Malta and Gozo.
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