We want to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life.

To help achieve this, we are committed to providing high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for all families.


To extend and improve the quality of early learning and childcare we are:

Other ways in which we are supporting children and parents during the early years include:


We provide funding to local authorities to deliver funded early learning and childcare (ELC).

 Funded ELC is delivered by a wide range of providers including nurseries and playgroups, from across the public, private and third sectors and by childminders.

 All three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds, are currently entitled to 600 hours of funded ELC a year. From August 2020, this will increase to 1140 hours and local authorities are already phasing this in for some children.

In March 2017, following a public consultation, we published an action plan for the expansion of ELC: A blueprint for 2020: the expansion of early learning and Childcare in Scotland.

In October 2017 we published A quality action plan to underpin the expansion of early learning and childcare setting out our plans to ensure the expansion delivers a high quality experience for all children.

Bills and legislation

The legislative basis for providing funded early learning and childcare is found in two pieces of primary legislation: The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

 The 1980 Act places a duty on local authorities to secure provision of school education, including early learning and childcare, in their area.

 Following their duties under the 1980 Act, the 2014 Act places a duty on local authorities to secure a specified amount of funded ELC for children in their area and sets out a framework on how this should be delivered.

Secondary legislation was passed in 2019 amending the 2014 Act, so that from 1 August 2020, the amount of funded early learning and childcare eligible children are entitled to will increase to 1140 hours a year.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit ceu@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Creating Positive Futures Division
Children and Families Directorate
Scottish Government
Area 2C - North
Victoria Quay

If you are a parent or carer you can get more information on eligibility for early learning and childcare at: https://www.mygov.scot/childcare-costs-help/ and https://www.parentclub.scot/articles/funding-and-entitlement-elc


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