1.1 Policy Aim
Evidence points to the importance of school age childcare for the whole family. Children can benefit from improved outcomes through accessing opportunities for enriching activities, play and learning and nutritious food. Access to childcare can support parents to work, train or study. 2022 will be a year in which we can test change, strengthen local capacity and grow existing services to embed a holiday childcare offer. This is part of building towards a sustainable system of year-round childcare in term-time and the holidays.
Last year, following recommendations by the Covid Education Recovery Group, SG announced £20 million funding to support an enhanced summer 2021 offer for all children, young people and families across Scotland. The "Get into Summer" programme was designed to boost the health and wellbeing of all children and young people across Scotland in response to the pandemic. This was in specific response to the impacts of Covid-19 and recognised an unprecedented set of circumstances.
In the Programme for Government in September 2021, Ministers committed to "building a system of wraparound school age childcare by the end of this Parliament. This includes offering care before and after school and in the holidays, and supporting parents – particularly on low incomes – to have secure and stable employment." The Scottish Government is investing £10 million into a targeted summer holiday offer in 2022 for children from low-income families. Particular focus is on children from the six priority family groups identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plans. The funding has been allocated to local authorities to enable them to supplement their existing locally-funded holiday programmes. The programme delivers coordinated access to holiday food, activities and childcare for eligible school-age children from 5-14 years.
In developing this EQIA we are mindful of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. Where any negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate/eliminate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality. We have sought to do this through support and guidance.
1.3 Addressing Inequalities and Improving Outcomes
Existing evidence suggests that access to social interaction, play and physical activity, particularly outdoors, delivers benefits for children and young people, including improving their mental and physical health. A range of interventions, pilot projects, and evaluation over the past three years  have provided a body of evidence of good practice and learning. There is potential for holiday programmes to help deliver a range of improved outcomes for children and families using a broad range of partners. By integrating food and childcare provision for low income families wherever possible we can improve access to nutritious food year round for those who need it while also supporting childcare needs. Where food provision is combined with childcare, children may experience reduced hunger and improved health and wellbeing.
Evaluation has shown that investment in holiday provision can have a far-reaching positive impact on only children, young people and families. It also has an overarching impact on local business, employment opportunity, education, community engagement and recovery.
The aim of the 2022 programme is to deliver integrated, flexible and accessible holiday provision that meets the needs of children from low income families. It is doing so by removing barriers to access which are context-specific. Issues such as geographical location, income level, family support, access to transport and the additional support needs of children have shaped it.
The expectation is that within each local authority area there will be a mix of holiday provision making best use of existing cross-sectoral capacity, including regulated and unregulated services. This will offer flexibility and choice to families and respond to their needs. Services will vary across and within authorities, with an expected focus on coordinated services in areas with higher SIMD ratings.
1.4 Who will it affect?
The majority of the funding for the 2022 summer programme is aimed at supporting children and young people between the ages of 5 and 14 from low income families, particularly those who fall into the six priority groups identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Plan:
- Children from lone parent families
- Children from minority ethnic families
- Children from families with a disabled adult or child
- Children from families with a young mother (under 25)
- Children from families with a child under 1 year old
- Children from larger families (3+ children)
There is also limited local discretion for partners to support other children and households who may benefit most from the programme.
1.5 Approach and desired outcomes
Local authorities will be provided with the funding to augment existing locally-funded holiday programmes to deliver coordinated access to holiday food, activities and childcare for eligible children outlined in this guidance. However, there is no expectation that local authorities will deliver all these services themselves. Instead, we are encouraging local authorities to work in close partnership with the third sector, out of school care sector and community groups. Partners will work together design and run services and activities that reflect the needs of local families.
The purpose of this programme is to fund tests of change, providing services and developing models of effective holiday childcare which will form part of our commitment to build a system of school age childcare over the course of this Parliament.
1.6 What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?
There are a number of possible challenges which could hinder the success of this programme and those in future years. This is evidenced by evaluation of the 2021 summer holiday programme and ongoing engagement with local authorities, and other stakeholders (such as childcare and activities providers). Possible mitigations to offset these challenges are addressed further on in the document. Identified challenges include:
A lack of skilled childcare workforce.
Extending the levels of childcare provision, whether through traditional childcare providers or through activities providers, requires staff to run the provision. In many cases there are not enough trained staff and this is especially true for provision for disabled children and young people or those with Additional Support Needs (ASN).
- A lack of capacity (both in childcare sector and in local authorities)
Many organisations are still dealing with the impact of the pandemic, they may have lost staff or have reduced capacity, while some businesses may have closed altogether. In some sectors, such as education, facilities and catering, staff may not be on 52 week contracts so take on other work during the summer months. This is particularly the case in areas with a significant tourist industry.
- Lack of engagement from local authorities and other stakeholders
Local authorities or service providers may be unwilling or unable to engage in the summer programme.
- Children and families aren't aware of or don't take up the offer
Children, young people and families may not be aware of, or have enough information about, the offer available or may not want to take up the summer offer because it doesn't suit their needs. The activities, location, timing or transport may not be suitable.
1.7 Is an EQIA required?
The 2021 evaluation highlighted several areas where the "Get into Summer 2021" programme did not fully reach all the target groups. This included children and young people with ASN and children and young people from minority ethnic families – both disability and race are protected characteristics. Therefore we want to ensure that thought is given to how we can put in place measures to ensure that participation of children and young people from previously underrepresented groups can be put in place this year.
1.8 Equity of access
The emphasis for this programme is on a rights based, participative approach, shaped by what children, young people and their families tell us, aligned with GIRFEC. This should build on what currently exists - enhancing and co-ordinating services and assets locally and nationally - in partnership.
1.9 Ongoing monitoring
Ongoing monitoring and engagement with local authorities and other stakeholders is taking place regularly. This is to ensure that, where possible, any challenges that may emerge are identified and mitigated collectively as appropriate.
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