Delivering flexible childcare

FM sets out funding options for next phase of ‘childcare revolution’.

Quality, choice and flexibility will be placed at the heart of Scotland’s childcare revolution under new funding proposals unveiled for consultation by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

The First Minister announced that the consultation on the Scottish Government’s ambitious early learning and childcare expansion plans includes proposals on new funding models to maximise the options available to parents.

The First Minister highlighted two proposals. The first would see funding follow the child, with parents or carers empowered to choose the provider that best meets their needs with funding provided by the local authority. The second would see the establishment of early learning and childcare accounts, with parents or carers given direct funding and allowed to purchase services with providers that offered them the best solution.

The consultation launched today and will seek views on the future direction and structure of the Early Learning and Childcare sector.

The First Minister said:

“Over this parliament, we will double the amount of state-funded early years education and childcare for all three and four year olds and for the most disadvantaged two year olds. And today I can announce a new phase in this childcare revolution.

“At present it is local authorities who decide what childcare places are offered to parents. Councils work hard to be flexible - but often the places offered to parents are not where and when they need them.

“So today we are launching a national parent consultation on how to do things differently. It proposes radical new approaches prioritising choice and flexibility.

“First, we will propose that parents can choose a nursery or childminder that best suits their needs and - as long as the provider meets agreed standards – ask the local authority to fund it. In other words, the funding will follow the child - not the other way round.

“Second, as suggested by Children in Scotland’s Childcare Commission, we will propose that parents can opt to receive funding in a childcare account and then use it to purchase a suitable place directly.

“Quality, choice, flexibility – these will be the watchwords of a policy to transform the working lives of families and the life chances of our children.”

Notes to editors

The consultation is available at:

The Scottish Government expanded free early learning and childcare from 412 hours to 475 hours for all three and four year olds in 2007.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 increased free provision from 475 hours to 600 hours for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds.

This expansion has been fully funded by the Scottish Government through £500 million investment for financial years 2014-15, 2015-16 and allocations for 2016-17.

The Scottish Government has further committed to increase funded provision to 1,140 hours by 2020.


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