Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: interim guidance - update March 2021

This update sets out the requirements on early learning and childcare (ELC) settings and local authorities from August 2021.

Implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for ELC providers

Funding Follows the Child remains the long-term policy framework that will support the delivery of funded ELC, and has been agreed by both the Scottish Government and COSLA.

It is expected that local authorities will continue to use the principles and criteria of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard as a framework to shape local funded ELC delivery.

This means placing choice in parents’ and carers’ hands, allowing them to access their child’s funded ELC entitlement from any setting – in the public, private or third sector, including a childminder – who meets the National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter into a contract with their local authority.

Important progress has already been made and the principles of Funding Follows the Child have been embedded in many local authorities’ approaches to funded ELC delivery. In particular, the need to ensure high quality funded ELC experiences for children; the principle of provider neutrality; the need for effective partnership working; and the importance of Fair Work practices.

The National Standard will ensure that families can be reassured that, regardless of where they access their child’s funded ELC entitlement, a high quality service will be delivered.

Many local authorities are already using the National Standard criteria in their funded ELC contracts with providers. It is expected that the National Standard, with appropriate flexibilities in line with this guidance, will continue to form the basis of contracting arrangements with providers.

However, by August 2021, alongside the full national roll out of 1,140 hours, there will be some flexibility (as set out in section 3 of this guidance) around when providers are expected to meet certain aspects of the National Standard.

Local authorities will continue to work in partnership with funded providers to reach agreement on sustainable local funding models which recognise the interplay with national reliefs and support. In particular, on continuation of contracted revenue streams to funded providers to support the provider neutral approach to ELC delivery and to promote short and long term sustainability.

This guidance is designed to continue to support local authorities and providers to work in partnership to enable the delivery of as much of the National Standard criteria as possible, but to highlight where flexibility may still be required. It is intended to complement the detailed Operating Guidance, and supporting technical guidance, produced for the sector to support implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for ELC providers.

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