Section 3: Next Steps And Transitional Arrangements
Existing funded providers will be expected to meet the National Standard from the full statutory roll-out of the entitlement to 1140 hours in August 2020. If they are unable to demonstrate that they meet the criteria, their funded provider status will be withdrawn. Existing settings who are not currently offering the funded hours, but wish to start offering them, will be eligible to apply only if they meet the National Standard.
Newly registered settings will receive a full inspection from the Care Inspectorate within 12 months of being registered. The Care Inspectorate's advice is that, provided they have been approved through the Care Inspectorate registration process as fit to deliver a daycare of children service, settings need not wait for their first inspection before being able to apply to become a funded provider. The rigour of the registration process should provide reassurance that the setting is able to deliver the funded hours on a probationary basis, pending the outcome of their first inspection, provided the local authority is assured that they have the potential to meet all other criteria in the National Standard.
Allowing new settings to deliver the funded hours on a probationary basis, will be important for improving accessibility of funded provision. In some areas, especially in remote and rural areas, newly registered settings may not be financially viable without being able to offer the funded entitlement from the outset. This exception will also be important in encouraging new innovative provision, including outdoor nurseries and provision developed by community enterprises.
Funded providers who drop below the required quality criteria will be given a fair 'service improvement period' in which to address this before their funded provider status is removed. For example, where an existing funded provider falls below 'good' evaluations, they will be inspected again within 6 to 12 months (focusing on aspects of the service that require to improve). Provided the Care Inspectorate is satisfied that the setting is still fit to operate, the setting will have until that next inspection to return its evaluations to good. The 'service improvement period' will not apply to new settings who become a funded provider on a probationary basis.
As part of the implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard, an important aspect will be how settings prepare to apply to be a funded provider and how local authorities assess the eligibility of settings to become a funded provider. The new model is supported by operating guidance to support providers and local authorities to implement the new approach. We will publish further supporting materials in March 2019. All settings wishing to become a funded provider in Scotland will be assessed against the same National Standard criteria and no additional criteria will be applied in specific areas of the country.
Scotland Excel have been taking forward the development of technical guidance to accompany the National Standard. This will include advice and direction on implementing sustainable rates, business sustainability and transition options.
An extensive level of engagement has been held with providers and local authorities on the development of this guidance. There has been considerable interest from the sector, in particular providers, to input to this process and we are grateful for the continued input from the sector to inform the development of this work.
An analysis of the findings from this consultation and next steps for the work of Scotland Excel has been published alongside this document. This is available on the Scotland Excel website. We now intend to start the process of finalising the guidance notes between December 2018 and March 2019 as we continue to ensure that the guidance reflects the views of the sector.
In addition to this, further support will be given centrally from Scottish Government to support implementation. We will undertake a series of engagement events to support local authorities and providers through the transition to 2020, starting in January 2019, to consult on the supporting materials to accompany the National Standard. We will work with COSLA and Scotland Excel to take this forward and will focus on clarifying aspects of the approach as well as communicating the expectations of the Scottish Government as we move towards a 'provider neutral' approach in ELC.
In addition, we will engage with the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland, as well as the national organisations who represent the ELC sector, to raise awareness of the National Standard amongst those involved in the provision of ELC.
We will also produce a specific question and answer publication for parents and carers to learn more about how the Funding Follows the Child approach will affect them and what they can expect when their child accesses high quality ELC.
Wider Support for Providers and Local Authorities
We will set out a 'Delivery Support Plan for Providers' which focuses on supporting the financial sustainability of providers, strengthening partnership working, supporting workforce recruitment and training and improving communications with parents and carers.
A Delivery Assurance Team is being established to gather and share learning on local authority delivery models and implementation and to activate wider networks of learning and support. A new Head of Delivery Assurance is currently being recruited, and will work with local authorities and Regional Improvement Collaboratives to design delivery support arrangements.
The ELC Partnership Forum has been established to promote meaningful partnership working across the ELC sector and to provide a forum for the sharing of best practice along with exploring new ideas and perspectives, both in meetings of the Forum, and by promoting this across the sector by appropriate means. The group will also play a key role in identifying and proposing solutions to specific issues raised by providers and/or local authorities. We plan to use this forum in a meaningful, strategic and constructive way to support implementation of this approach.
If you are a provider and would like to join the ELC Partnership Forum, please email ELCPartnershipForum@gov.scot to register your interest.
The Knowledge Hub is also a space to discuss and collaborate with colleagues in other local authorities, and with providers, on the implementation of the Funding Follows the Child approach. Members of the Scottish Government ELC Programme are also a part of this community and contribute to discussions where this is requested. Relevant information about the expansion to 1140 hours can be found on this site.
Email: Euan Carmichael