Scotland's Children - The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance: Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and Their Families

Guidance and regulations on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995

Scotland's Children
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance
Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and Their Families

Chapter 5 Day Care Services

1. Local authorities have a duty to provide day care for children in need within their area who are aged five or under and who have not yet started school. They may also provide day care for such children who are not deemed to be children in need. In addition local authorities have a duty to provide appropriate care for school-children in need within their areas outside school hours and during school holidays, and a similar power in respect of school-children who are not in need. Children in need entitled to day care services include children with and affected by disabilities. A local authority may also provide facilities, including training, advice, guidance and counselling for those who accompany children whilst they are in day care, such as parents or other carers.

Section 27

Section 27(2)

Day care provision

2. Day care services offer opportunities for children to broaden their experiences and learning, and to enhance their social and educational development. Such services may also benefit parents. Services should be responsive to the changing needs of children and their families and should be accessible, reliable and flexible to meet the needs of parents and children, and provide good and safe basic care.

3. Local authorities and other providers should work together to make accurate information about local day care services available so that all parents can make informed choices about care for their child. Local authorities might publicise services in child health clinics, libraries, GP surgeries and other facilities routinely used by families with young children. Information should be made available in a range of formats and media, in other languages, in Braille and on tape. Local authorities might also publicise the results of their statutory triennial reviews of day care services perhaps in summary form for the public.

Planning day care services

4. Each local authority must determine the most effective way to fulfil their duties and to exercise their powers to provide day care services in their area, according to local circumstances, demand and available resources. Policies and resource priorities should be included in children's services plans developed in consultation between the key departments and agencies, including the voluntary and private sector and users. Plans should aim to promote a "mixed economy" of provision between local authorities and other providers registered by the local authority.

5. Suitable day care provision should be available for children whose needs are related to disability. Children who have a disability or special educational needs should, where possible, have access to local mainstream provision appropriate for their needs as a well as to more specialist provision. Guidance on day care provision for children with disabilities is contained in Chapter 6 of this volume.

6. It is for each local authority to determine how far they exercise their powers to provide day care services for children who are not in need. These services have an important role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect and avoiding the need for compulsory measures of supervision. They can widen the experiences and opportunities available to children and young people, particularly in areas of high unemployment and multiple deprivation. An authority may wish to target scarce resources upon areas where there are likely to be high numbers of children in need, and identify the appropriate resources for that area. Parents and children should be informed, consulted and where possible directly involved in the development of day care services.

7. Day care services should have regard to the racial origins, cultural and linguistic backgrounds and religious persuasion of children using the service and seek to reflect the ethnic make up of the communities they serve, by recruiting staff of local ethnic minorities where possible, and by integrating relevant aspects of these minority cultures into the routines and activities of the services. For example, staff should be able to identify and meet the needs of children from different local ethnic and religious communities and the toys, pictures, food provided, games and festivals should reflect the diversity of cultures and communities in Scotland. Providers and staff should promote an environment in which children can develop an under-standing of their own and others' history and heritage and an appreciation of difference in other children and adults.

Registration, inspection and review of day care services

8. Local authorities have duties to regulate and review local day care services for children under eight. They are required to maintain a register of day care providers and childminders. Registration is a means of ensuring that all services reach acceptable minimum standards and that children receive satisfactory care and protection in these settings. Local authorities are also required to inspect domestic households used by registered childminders and registered non-domestic premises in which day care for children under eight is provided. The local authority must inspect these facilities at least once every year. Guidance relating to the Children Act 1989 was issued in 1991. 1

Part X Children Act 1989

9. Under the 1989 Act local authorities are required to review their day care services for children under eight at least once every three years. Information about the level, organisation and delivery of services should be collated and evaluated in the light of the local authority's policies and standards for the development of the service. Reviewing services requires consultation with providers, referrers, families and children themselves. The standards expected of day care services should be of at least the same quality whether they are managed by local authorities or an independent provider.

Section 19 Children Act 1989

10. The Government's Pre-School Education Initiative introduces vouchers which parents may use to purchase education services of their choice for children in their pre-school year. Pilot schemes began in four areas in August 1996 prior to the scheme being extended nationwide. The Pre-School Education Initiative will not remove the duty to provide day care for children in their pre-school year who are in need, but authorities may wish to take account of the extent to which attendance at pre-school education services addresses the needs of such children.

Voluntary and independent providers

11. Local authorities should work closely with the voluntary and private sectors in developing the range of provision in their areas. Local authorities have a responsibility to establish and monitor standards throughout the day care sector, through their registration and inspection functions, in keeping with their overall strategy for services to children in their area. Independent organisations are often able to be creative in developing services. They have much to contribute to the range and pattern of services in each area and local authorities should ensure that local providers are consulted and involved in taking forward developments in policy and practice. In rural and isolated areas, with limited access to transport and other services, small scale provision reliant on individuals and volunteers is often the primary source of day care provision and local authorities should encourage these initiatives.


12. Childminders offer care for children in their own home, if registered, or the child's home. In recent years childminding has grown faster than any other aspect of day care services. Social work departments can engage childminders to provide day care, or can subsidise or pay for places for children in need, either as an established service or as part of an individual package of support. This form of provision is generally welcomed by parents because it is usually local, adaptable and the child-minder may be a source of help and support for parents themselves. In some rural areas childminding may be the only form of day care available.

13. Local authorities should ensure that childminders registered in their area are equipped and trained to provide appropriate care for their charges. Childminders who take on more complex tasks with vulnerable families will need access to training which includes attention to play and child development, caring for a child with disabilities, what to do if worried about a child's welfare at home, first aid, health and safety and how to address needs related to race, culture, language and religion.

Training for providers

14. The local authority has an important role to play in ensuring that staff working with children in their area have access to good quality facilities, including training. A local authority may provide facilities such as training, advice, guidance and counselling for those who provide day care for children. Local authority training for staff may include local independent and voluntary agency providers, staff and volunteers. Some authorities have developed under eights or early years forums with representation from a wide range of interests and agencies. These can be useful vehicles for developing and implementing a local training strategy.

Section 27(2)

15. Volunteers need support and training to maximise their potential for helping in communities. They must be selected with care and criminal records checks should be made on volunteers with access to children. Where volunteers are employed in organisations registered by the local authority to provide day care, registration and inspection should include attention to these aspects of the agency's operation.

1 Regulation and Review of Childminding, Day Care and Education Services for Children Under 8: The Scottish Office, 1991

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