Early learning and childcare service model for 2020: consultation analysis
Analysis of responses to the joint Scottish Government and COSLA consultation on the new Early Learning and Childcare service model for 2020.
Chapter 3 The Process for becoming a funded provider
The consultation document outlined the process for becoming a funded provider:
- Meeting the criteria within the National Standard, as assessed by the local authority
- Receiving the offer of a locally set sustainable funding rate from the local authority
- Signing a contract to become a funded provider.
The consultation document then asked respondents what factors they think should be considered in developing a simple, standardised yet flexible process for becoming a funded provider.
Respondents raised the following points in their answers:
- Procurement process for becoming a funded provider
- The contract
- Quality inspection
- The need for standardisation
- Funding rates.
Each of these points is discussed in greater detail below.
3.1 Procurement process for becoming a funded provider
Respondents raised the following points with regards to the procurement process for becoming a funded provider:
- Respondents highlighted the importance of providing clear and transparent guidelines to providers about the requirements they need to meet (i.e. the National Standard) as well as the process for becoming a funded provider. It was suggested that providers should be provided with detailed guidelines as soon as possible in order to prepare for the expansion of funded ELC entitlement and the introduction of the National Standard.
- It was suggested that the procurement process should be accessible and "bureaucracy-light".
- Respondents felt that there should be clarity about when providers could apply to their locality authority to become a funded provider. It was suggested that applications should be ongoing and not restricted to an annual or three-year tender cycle.
- Respondents proposed that local authorities should support providers, and particularly childminders, with their application process.
Respondents highlighted the importance to have a contract between the local authority and the funded providers which sets out the responsibilities and accountabilities of both parties. Respondents were unsure as to how long the contract would be for and had different suggestions for its length, ranging from two years to an open-ended contract as long as the quality standards are upheld.
3.3 Quality inspection
Respondents noted the importance to uphold quality under the expansion of funded ELC entitlement and raised the following points regarding the quality inspection process:
- It was suggested that there should be consistency in how the quality of a particular provider is evaluated. This was raised in the context of respondents being under the impression that there is currently a lack of consistency in how inspectors of the Care Inspectorate grade different providers.
- Respondents highlighted the need for the quality of a service to be regularly monitored.
- It was felt that the respective roles of local authorities and the Care Inspectorate under the new service model for 2020 should be further specified with regards to quality control. The importance for these two parties to work in close partnership was emphasised.
- Respondents highlighted the need to withdraw the funded provider status from providers who are not meeting the quality criteria as outlined in the National Standard. Regarding this, respondents suggested that further information should be provided on how providers would be de-commissioned.
- Respondents had a concern that the reference in the National Standard to "good" grades of the Care Inspectorate creates a focus on minimum standards as opposed to a strive for improvement and excellence. Suggestions were made to incentivise providers to move towards "very good" or "excellent" grades.
Respondents highlighted the importance of standardisation across a range of points related to the process for becoming a funded provider:
- It was suggested that the process for becoming a funded provider and quality standards should be standardised across different provider types, i.e. local authority, private, third sector providers or childminders.
- Some respondents suggested that there should be a standardised process for becoming a funded provider and a standardised application of the National Standard across local authorities and there should be no post-code lottery when it comes to funded ELC services.
3.5 Funding rates
Following on from the previous point, the following points about the funding rate were suggested:
- Many respondents highlighted the importance of providing a sustainable funding rate which considers the running costs of delivering the funded entitlement of 1140 hours per child as well as the need to pay the living wage for staff (an issue further explored in Chapter 8). Regarding this, it was proposed that there should be a transparent process of how local authorities arrive at the hourly rate.
- Some respondents, primarily individuals and private providers, suggested that there should be the same funding rate for different providers types, as it was felt that this would lead to provider neutrality. Regarding this, it was felt that the higher non-staff related cost structure of private and third sector providers, as compared to local authority providers, should be considered.
- Seven respondents, five of which were local authorities, suggested that there should be a national funding rate, i.e. a standardised rate across all local authorities.
Email: Euan Carmichael
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback