6. Summary and Next Steps
This draft framework highlights the huge amount of work already going on across Scotland to deliver high quality out of school care services for many children and families. It also sets out a bold vision for the future of out of school care and considers the changes which might be required to deliver that vision.
The framework identifies 3 key aims for focussing future policy development;
1. High quality services which provide children with life-enhancing experiences.
2. Out of school care is accessible and affordable and meets the needs of children and young people, parents and carers and communities.
3. Out of school care services are embedded in communities and enable children and young people to access a range of spaces including the outdoors.
The framework also presents a substantial amount of information resulting from a wide range of engagement with children, with parents and with the out of school care sector. We hope that this information assists in provoking discussion and sparking conversation about what the priorities should be for our developing out of school care policy.
Most importantly, our framework has told the stories of the many people who have contributed to developing our vision and to helping us better understand the challenges and barriers which currently exist to delivering this vision. This has been an invaluable part of our engagement and policy development process and we will continue to do this as part of our consultation.
Our draft framework asks a number of questions. The responses to these questions will help us to shape our strategic framework, to consider the priorities for the future and to understand what more can be done to further support the out of school care sector to continue to deliver high quality sustainable services within communities and to address the challenges for some parents of accessing out of school care and for some children of accessing a range of out of school and holiday activities.
Over the coming months we will invite parents and carers and children and young people to form a public panel which will create a reference point, providing a voice for those groups throughout our ongoing policy development. We will also continue our engagement with the out of school care sector through a series of consultation events. This will ensure that this process continues to be a truly collaborative one, focussed on changes which will better meet the needs of children and families across Scotland.
Access to Childcare Fund
In order to deliver our suggested vision, changes will be required within the current system. In order to test models which can deliver this change we have created a £3 million fund for supporting childcare provision and activities which are based in local communities and which will directly reduce the cost of living for low income families (by providing subsidised or low cost childcare for school aged children). This will be coupled with support for parents or careers to enter employment or training or to increase current hours of work. The fund will be delivered over a two year period starting in April 2020.
Each project funded should be able to demonstrate direct positive impacts for at least one of the 6 priority groups identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and also demonstrate positive outcomes for children. We will maximise opportunities to align this fund with the £12 million Parental Employment Support Fund (PESF) and the £6 million investment in employability support for disabled parents.
The fund will:
- test the change required to remove the barriers of school aged childcare costs for low income families as a driver for reducing child poverty
- test the change required to deliver our vision for after school and holiday childcare
- provide solutions to enabling opportunities for all children to enjoy a full range of play experiences outside of school
- consider appropriate models of delivery which can support this change
- provide robust evidence of the social impact and positive outcomes for children and families which access to affordable, accessible and flexible out of school care and activity programmes can deliver.
Details of the criteria for applications to the Access to Childcare Fund will be available over the coming weeks.
We would like to offer a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this draft framework, particularly to all the parents and children who gave up their time and allowed us to tell their stories and share their aspirations for out of school care. We'd also like to thank all those working in the out of school care sector, who spoke so passionately about the job that they do and thought carefully about how we might best improve what's provided for children and families. And finally a big thanks to our reference group who started us on this journey, helping us to create a collaborative and bold vision for out of school care in Scotland and working with us along the way to consider what might be possible. We look forward to continuing the work to deliver that vision.
Consultation is open on this draft framework and will remain open until 6 December 2019 - please take the time to provide us with your thoughts and views on the future of out of school care in Scotland. We will be supplementing our formal consultation with further engagement events, in advance of publishing a final framework for out of school care in Scotland before the end of this Parliament.