Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: transition options guidance on contracting

This document outlines options for local authorities to consider when developing their processes to contract with private and third sector providers.

Section 3: General Guidance

19. Whilst this guidance is written to support the implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the underpinning National Standard, there is a recognition that, in some cases, there may be a significant transition period to move away from current practices and that this may require new ways of working. This may mean that the process is reviewed during the transition to 2020 and following full roll-out of the expansion to 1140 hours.

20. The exact process that a local authority decides to adopt will depend on local factors, as well as guidance from national sources and their own internal advisers, including procurement and legal teams.

21. Regardless of the final process that is implemented, it should reflect the following points:

  • The reasoning behind the local authority’s approach must be clear. This may be based on current or historical arrangements, requirements to guarantee service continuity, resource allocation or other local requirements.
  • The local authority should engage with existing private and third sector providers, including childminders, to ensure awareness of the new process and any transitional arrangements.
  • The process used should be flexible enough to allow new private and third sector providers, including childminders, to apply at regular intervals throughout the contract period. This must be clearly stated when advertising and publicising the opportunity to become a funded provider. It may be beneficial to consider how this flexibility would link to other processes, such as the local authority’s enrolment cycle for children taking up funded places at ELC settings.
  • The process for applying to offer funded places to 3 and 4 year-olds could be combined with the process for applying to provide funded hours to eligible 2 year-olds. This would simplify the process for providers, as well as streamlining the process for local authorities.
  • Where the local authority requests evidence in relation to the National Standard, or to adhere to their Standing Orders and Financial Regulations, the evidence and evaluation methodology must be clearly outlined.
  • Where local authorities have, historically, had high levels of cross-boundary places with neighbouring local authorities, it would be best practice to consider the extent to which it would be possible to align the funded provider processes, to ensure consistency.
  • Local authorities must adhere to the EU Treaty principles when undertaking any procurement activity, namely:
    • Transparency;
    • Equal treatment and non-discrimination;
    • Proportionality; and
    • Mutual recognition.

22. The information in this document provides guidance specifically in relation to ELC requirements as well as the National Standard and Funding Follows the Child policies.

23. In relation to general best practice guidance for care services, the Scottish Government has published guidance on “Procurement of care and support services: best practice guidance” to support local authorities and commissioners.



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