Peter Black is calling on the Welsh Labour government to do more to improve access to affordable, quality childcare.
Research has revealed that one in three families spend 30% of more of their available earnings on childcare. Since the Liberal Democrats entered government in Westminster in 2010, there have been significant improvements to childcare services in England. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are concerned that the Welsh Labour government is allowing Wales' childcare provision to fall behind.
Speaking after a Welsh Liberal Democrat debate on childcare in the Assembly, Mr. Black said:
"The cost of childcare is a huge worry for many families. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that more needs to be done to ensure families have better access to affordable, high quality childcare in Wales.
"Liberal Democrats in Westminster have vastly improved childcare provision in England. They have extended the hours available and have made it very flexible. This is in stark contrast to what is on offer here in Wales. The current system, under Labour, is far too inflexible. Families in Flying Start areas are only allowed 2.5 hours a day of free childcare a day. Even more worrying is that there is little to no provision for children who don't live in designated Flying Start areas.
"For many mothers it is not worth working because childcare has become so expensive; the numbers simply don't add up for them. We want to change that. Of course it is perfectly reasonable that some parents choose not to return to work until their children attend school. However, we want parents to have the option to return to work available to them.
"It is often said that over a million women are 'missing' from the UK workforce as financially it doesn't make sense for them to go back to work. More must be done to support these mothers in accessing affordable childcare as it will offer a significant boost to our economy."
In Wales, parents of 2 to 3 years olds in Flying Start areas are eligible for 2.5 hours a day of free childcare provision, 5 days a week, and a minimum of 10 hours a week of free early years provision for 3 to 4 years olds under the Foundation Phase. In England, the UK Government has introduced 15 free hours a week for the most disadvantaged 40% of 2 year olds, as well as 15 free hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds.
The UK Government is introducing tax free childcare for working families in 2015, which will be worth an extra £1,200 per child. This will benefit 110,000 families in Wales.
The Childcare Costs Survey 2013 revealed that only 25% of local authorities in Wales reported enough childcare for children aged two and under. Not a single local authority offered sufficient provision for parents with unusual work patterns, such as shift workers or those with disabled children.