Early learning and childcare expansion: joint statement

Joint statement from the Minister for Children and Young People and COSLA.

All eligible children can benefit from 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare from August 2021.

The expansion of funded ELC, originally intended for August 2020, was paused in April to give local authorities the flexibility to focus on responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd and COSLA spokesperson for Children and Young People Councillor Stephen McCabe have issued a joint statement.

Joint statement: Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, and COSLA spokesperson for Children and Young People, Councillor Stephen McCabe

At the end of March we took the difficult decision to pause the 1,140 hours expansion programme to allow local authorities to focus on our immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, throughout the pandemic, local authorities and ELC providers have continued to work extremely hard to progress the expansion and ensure as many families as possible can benefit ahead of statutory implementation.

Work has continued to secure the required workforce and to re-phase capital programmes as construction activity resumed after lockdown.  More than 80% of children in funded ELC are receiving more than 600 hours and 61% of children – more than 56,000 – are already receiving 1,140 hours.

Councils and ELC providers have shown tremendous commitment to deliver the expanded entitlement to so many more families since March.

The ELC Joint Delivery Board has monitored progress of the ELC Expansion and worked with Councils to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of the expansion. This work has been supported by an independent review. Taking account of capital, workforce, capacity and other risks, the Board has recommended that the statutory duty to deliver 1140 hours should be reinstated with effect from August 2021.

Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders have endorsed the ELC Joint Delivery Board recommendation of a delivery date of August 2021. The Government will take forward legislation in this Parliament to reintroduce the statutory duty on Local Authorities to deliver from August 2021. 

We are pleased that we will again be able to offer certainty to families on when every eligible child will receive 1,140 hours.  As we look ahead to 2021, and with a new implementation date in place, we will continue our focus on realising the transformational benefits of the expansion, including improved educational and developmental outcomes for children, enhanced family wellbeing, and greater employment and training opportunities for parents and carers.

See: Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board

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