A meal for every child at funded early learning and childcare sessions

Major new Scottish Government scheme delivers healthy food, outdoor play & living wage in childcare.

Every child attending a funded early learning and childcare (ELC) session will receive a healthy meal, Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd has announced. 

A major new Scottish Government scheme, developed in partnership with COSLA, will also ensure access to outdoor play sessions for all children – regardless of where they live – and will enable providers to pay all childcare workers delivering the funded sessions at least the real Living Wage. 

The scheme will be introduced from August 2020 and will be ‘provider neutral’ giving parents choice over where they choose to access funded hours of childcare for their children.

It is part of a programme of work to almost double the funded provision of ELC from 600 hours per year to 1,140 hours by 2020, underpinned by almost £500 million in next year’s budget.

Launching the ELC National Standard during a visit to Treetop Family Nurture Centre, Inverkeithing, Fife, Ms Todd said:

“The earliest years of a child’s life are crucial to their development and high quality early learning and childcare plays a vital role in helping children realise their full potential and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

“This is a unique opportunity to transform the way we deliver early learning and childcare, which is why we are using the National Standard to ensure no child in ELC goes hungry or misses out on the benefits of outdoor learning, exercise and play. 

“Families were already going to receive an increased number of funded ELC hours by August 2020. Our new Funding Follows the Child approach and National Standard, set out today, will build on this further, ensuring that high quality and choice remain at the heart of the expansion to 1,140 hours.

“And because we know that children and families benefit most when they have strong, positive and trusting relationships with staff, the National Standard underlines our commitment to a professional, dedicated and skilled workforce who are fairly rewarded for the hard work they do."

COSLA's Children and Young People Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said:

“We welcome the publication of the National Standard, which has been developed in partnership by COSLA and the Scottish Government. The National Standard underpins the commitment to nearly double the funded entitlement of Early Learning and Childcare to 1,140 hours per year for three and four-year olds, and eligible two-year olds. It is intended to ensure that from August 2020 children will receive a high-quality, accessible service aimed at improving outcomes and tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.”

This package also includes funding to enable providers to pay all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement at least the real Living Wage. 

The new scheme – called Funding Follows the Child - will be underpinned by a new National Standard that all funded ELC providers, regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sector will be required to meet so parents can be confident, whichever setting they choose, their child will receive a high quality experience.


Funded ELC is available to all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds. Currently, there are 600 funded hours provided per year – this will be increased to 1,140 hours by 2020.

‘Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard: Principles and Practice’ sets out the Funding Follows the Child approach, and the National Standard underpinning it, which all providers wishing to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet as of August 2020. 

The National Minimum Wage is £7.83 for over 25s. The real Living Wage in Scotland is £9.00.

The Funding Follows the Child approach has been developed in extensive collaboration with the sector.

Funding Follows the Child gives parents and carers the choice to access their child’s funded entitlement from any provider that meets the National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter a contract with the local authority.


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