Section 1: Funding Follows The Child
The Funding Follows the Child approach places choice in parents' and carers' hands allowing them to access their child's funded entitlement from any setting – in the public, private or third sector, including from a childminder – who meets the National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter into a contract with their local authority.
The National Standard, which underpins the approach, will provide parents and carers with the certainty that those settings delivering funded hours are offering high quality ELC provision.
The key aspects of the Funding Follows the Child approach are:
- Getting It Right for Every Child is at the centre of our approach to improving the experience of our children in their early years;
- It is 'provider neutral' and is underpinned by a National Standard, which all providers who wish to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet from the full statutory roll-out of 1140 hours of funded ELC entitlement;
- Families will be able to access high quality funded ELC with the provider of their choice if that provider meets the criteria set out in the National Standard, wishes to deliver the funded entitlement, has a space available, is able to offer the funded hours in-line with local ELC delivery plans (subject to the setting's overall capacity) and is willing to enter into a contract with the local authority;
- The choice of setting available to families is not restricted to their own local authority boundary;
- Information for parents and carers will be clear and accessible to make them aware of the options available to them, in particular the different types of settings that can be chosen, when accessing their funded entitlement;
- Settings must ensure that the funded hours are free at the point of access and parents and carers are not required to purchase additional hours beyond the funded entitlement in order to access their child's funded hours at a setting;
- Local authorities will retain the statutory responsibility for ensuring that the funded entitlement is available to all eligible children in their area, and will be the primary guarantors of quality and key enablers of flexibility and choice – ensuring that there is a range of options for families in their area;
- Local authorities and providers should work together meaningfully and in genuine partnership in delivering flexible ELC provision, while continuing to ensure that a high quality experience for children is maintained and accessible to all;
- Funding to deliver the funded entitlement will continue to be channelled through local authorities;
- Local authorities will set a rate locally that is paid to funded providers in the private and third sectors, including childminders, to deliver the funded entitlement, which is sustainable and reflects national policy priorities, including funding to enable payment of the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement;
- Funded providers who agree to deliver the funded entitlement will commit to paying the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement and commit to operating Fair Work Practices;
- Every child receiving a funded ELC session will receive a free meal; and
A commitment to simplifying the process for, and reducing the burden on, providers to deliver the funded entitlement. All providers will face the same National Standard for becoming, and continuing to be, a funded provider.
Email: Euan Carmichael