We recognise that the earliest years of life are crucial to a child's development and have a lasting impact on outcomes in health, education and employment opportunities later in life. It is widely acknowledged that the provision of universally accessible and high quality early learning and childcare (ELC) can play a vital role in helping to close the poverty-related attainment gap.
This is why the Scottish Government and local authorities have committed to making an unprecedented level of investment in early learning and childcare through the near doubling of the funded ELC 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 entitlement is delivered in high quality ELC settings, a Funding Follows the Child approach will be introduced in August 2020 alongside the statutory roll-out of the expanded entitlement.
This approach is 'provider neutral' and will empower parents to choose from a range of high quality ELC providers, including childminders.
It will ensure financially sustainable provision across the ELC sector. The Scottish Government and COSLA agreed a multi-year funding package which includes funding to enable the payment of sustainable rates to funded providers delivering the funded entitlement – including funding to enable payment of at least the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement.
It is underpinned by a National Standard that All Settings who wish to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet.
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.
This ensures that All Settings who are offering the funded entitlement are delivering the highest quality ELC experience for children, regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sectors or childminders.
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 child's funded hours.
This Funding Follows the Child approach was developed through the Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities working in partnership, through a Service Models Working Group. It has been informed by a joint Scottish Government and COSLA consultation, and through extensive engagement with providers and key stakeholders to ensure that it works for everyone in the sector and helps to improve the early learning and childcare experience for our young children.
Overview of this Document and Supporting Material
This document sets out how the Funding Follows the Child approach will operate, in particular how settings will meet the National Standard criteria and what the role of local authorities will be in implementing the approach from August 2020. It also includes clarification on some of the details underpinning the approach.
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: Frequently Asked Questions for Local Authorities and Providers.
Email: Euan Carmichael