A pilot scheme to extend the hours of government-run childcare services will start at six centres this October, Education Minister Justyne Caruana has announced.
The test will see the participating centres extend their opening times by three hours a day, opening at 6am instead of 7.30am and closing at 6pm instead of 4.30pm. Participating centres will also open on Saturdays between 6am and 1pm.
Centres taking part in the pilot scheme 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) and Ix-Xemx Childcare Centre (Qawra).
A public call for additional staff that will need to be employed to cover the additional opening hours was issued on July 18, she said.
Caruana said that the extended opening hours would add a further 72 children to the centres’ rosters – a 20 per cent increase. There are currently around 385 children enrolled in 13 childcare centres run by the government’s Foundation for Educational Services.
The pilot scheme follows a 2017 electoral promise to improve and extend childcare services.
Malta introduced free childcare services in 2013 and the initiative has proven to be a resounding success, allowing more childcaring parents to enter the workforce and bumping the country’s labour force participation rate from 52 per cent to 74 per cent.
Free childcare is either provided directly through government services or alternatively through privately-run registered childcare centres.
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