Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services

Non-statutory guidance for early learning and childcare (ELC) providers in the local authority, private and third sectors to support a safe reopening of these settings during Phase 3.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services
Financial impact/allocation of places

Financial impact/allocation of places

Financial impact

We recognise that any restrictions on operating may affect the cost of delivery of services per child. If the number of children that can be accommodated in a setting, or within a given staffing model, is reduced, there may be an increase in the cost per hour of childcare. However, the extent of this impact will vary from setting to setting, and will be closely linked to capacity. There may also be additional costs, relating to implementation of public health measures for cleaning and hygiene requirements. These cost increases may apply throughout the period where these public health measures are in place.

We recognise that funded ELC is an important source of revenue for many providers. The Scottish Government and Local Government have jointly committed in the strategic framework to designing a model which is financially sustainable for local authorities, and private and third sector providers.

Assessment of the impact on cost of childcare provision while these public health measures are in place must be based on an open, transparent approach. Providers should consider carefully what the impact of restrictions are on cost of delivery in their settings, and how this can be demonstrated.

Advice on the application of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for ELC Providers has been published, and includes guidance on the payment of sustainable rates for the delivery of funded ELC.

Further information on support available to the sector throughout the recovery can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Allocation of places

If capacity is reduced, careful consideration must be given to the allocation of places within a setting. Before making offers to parents, providers should consider the capacity within settings, and ensure that there is a clear and transparent approach to how allocations will be made.

Local authorities will continue to have duties in relation to the provision of funded ELC and other services. Scottish Government and Local Government will work together to  on the implementation of these duties, building on the principles laid out in the Strategic Framework. This says:

Where capacity is limited, providers should ensure that the following three groups have priority access to that capacity:

  • children who may be provided with access to daycare services under section 2 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995
  • children eligible for the funded entitlement of 600 hours of ELC i.e. eligible 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds
  • key worker families requiring critical childcare

Local authorities and providers will have discretion over how to allocate overall capacity in line with these principles and the local GIRFEC practice model. Local authorities and childcare providers should work together in meaningful partnership to meet the needs of local children and families.

Any remaining capacity should be used to meet the childcare needs of other working families. This will include provision for children from birth to 3, wraparound care for children eligible for funded ELC, and daycare of children provision for school age children.

Funded providers who are in partnership with a local authority to deliver places should discuss any changes in their capacity with their local authority to help with the development of a local delivery plan for funded ELC. Effective dialogue, transparency and partnership working between funded providers and local authorities will be essential to reach a shared understanding of capacity, cost and availability. 

First published: 30 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -