The Scottish Government and local authorities have committed to making an unprecedented level of investment in early learning and childcare (ELC) through the near doubling of the funded entitlement from 600 to 1140 hours per year from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds.
This will be high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for families.
In order to ensure that the funded ELC entitlement is delivered in high quality settings, a Funding Follows the Child approach will be introduced in August 2020 alongside the statutory roll-out of the expanded entitlement.
It will ensure financially sustainable provision across the ELC sector. The Scottish Government and COSLA have agreed a multi-year funding package which includes funding to support the payment of sustainable rates to providers delivering the funded entitlement; to enable payment of at least the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded hours; and to provide a free meal to every child attending a funded ELC session from August 2020
The approach is 'provider neutral' and is underpinned by a National Standard that all settings who wish to become a funded provider - regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sector, or childminders - will have to meet.
The criteria in the National Standard focus on what children and their families should expect from their ELC experience, regardless of where they access their funded entitlement.
Quality at the Heart of Early Learning and Childcare Entitlement
International research and evidence from our own Growing Up in Scotland Study shows that all children, but especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, can benefit from attending ELC. However, that evidence also tells us that if our ELC offer is to help give children the best start in life and contribute to closing the poverty-related attainment gap, it must be of high quality.
That is why at the heart of the National Standard are a clear and consistent set of quality criteria, recognising that the ELC expansion is fundamentally about improving the early years' experience of our youngest children.
Overview of this Document and Supporting Material
This document addresses some of the frequently asked questions from local authorities and providers about the Funding Follows the Child approach, the National Standard criteria and delivery of the real Living Wage Commitment
This document should be read in conjunction with 'A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland – Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare Providers: Principles and Practice' and 'A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland – Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare Providers: Operating Guidance'.
Email: Euan Carmichael