Cross boundary arrangements
179. Education authorities have admission policies for those children entitled to early learning and childcare. This can include cross boundary arrangements such as prioritising children from their own authority; parents from other education authority areas who work in their education authority area; and, other parents who choose for proximity or other reasons to seek a place in a host authority other than their home authority. Where an education authority accepts children from neighbouring authorities, this can impact on funding as well as responsibilities for quality assurance, staff training and CPD in host authorities.
180. Larger cities may experience the most placements of children from other authorities, but, may also benefit from the inward employment and economic benefits.
181. Where smaller education authorities may generally experience even smaller numbers of importing and exporting children for places, administrative procedures to recover costs may be disproportionate to the benefits.
182. It is recommended that a cross-boundary no charging policy is implemented uniformly by education authorities. However this clearly only works where authorities consistently implement a cross boundary no charging policy. Reciprocal arrangements will work best where there is a balance of children in and out of an education authority area. It is recommended that local authorities meet on a regional or neighbouring basis to identify movement and places across boundaries; and, reach sustainable and mutually beneficial arrangements. Where there is an imbalance of children, there needs to be a clear agreement on funding and admission policies. On-going work will be required to resolve those issues.
183. It is important to note that in addition to the benefits that early learning and childcare brings to young children, it is also essential to removing barriers and increasing flexibility for those parents who are working, training or studying. Reciprocal cross boundary arrangements are therefore fundamental to realising the social and economic benefits of early learning and childcare for families and society.