1.1 The Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2021 as amended("the Regulations") introduced a scheme, known as the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme ("the Scheme" or "SMHSS"), in Scotland that replaced the UK Nursery Milk Scheme (NMS) using the powers in section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988 from 1 August 2021.
1.2 The Scheme offers funding for a daily portion of plain fresh cow's milk (or specified alternative) and a healthy snack (fresh fruit or vegetables) for pre-school children spending 2 hours or more in the care of a regulated day care provider and/or childminder that has registered for the Scheme.
1.3 The Scheme aims to ensure that as many pre-school children in day care as possible will receive a daily serving of milk and a healthy snack to contribute towards healthy growth and development and the promotion of healthy eating habits for later life.
1.4 From 1 April 2022, a national interim combined rate of 58.2p for milk, non-dairy alternatives and a healthy snack for every eligible child regardless of type of setting and local authority area will be in place whilst further long term action to review the Scheme is taken forward. There is no fixed proportion of the combined rate for milk, non-dairy alternative and healthy snack. The intention is to provide settings with flexibility to use the funding for milk, non-dairy alternative, fruit or vegetables in a way that best suits local needs and circumstances.
1.5 The aim of this updated guidance is to support local authorities and participating day care providers to implement the Scheme along with interim measures effectively.
2.1 The Scheme supports Scottish Ministers intention to improve children's health and wellbeing, by establishing healthy eating habits, including regular consumption of quality dairy produce or non-dairy alternatives from an early age, as well as consumption of fresh fruit or vegetables. It is intended that these habits will be taken forward into adolescence and throughout adult life.
2.2 This is a universal policy which applies to all pre-school children, who are in receipt of 2 or more hours regulated childcare with a day care provider or childminder registered with the Scheme.
2.3 Payments and provision of milk and healthy snack under the SMHSS began in August 2021. Under the Scheme (including these interim measures) there is no requirement for settings to provide proof of purchase i.e. receipts, invoices, contracts - although they will be asked to retain these as good record keeping practices, in the event they are selected for monitoring by their local authority. Please see Paragraph 12 'Monitoring and Reporting', below, for more detail on monitoring and reporting.
2.4 The SMHSS will:
- Be delivered by local authorities who have been delegated prescribed Ministerial functions in the Regulations;
- Enable local authorities to provide direct and upfront funding for all pre-school day care providers and childminders which are registered with the Care Inspectorate; where children spend 2 or more hours per day in their care; and where the settings have registered with their local authority to be part of the Scheme;
- Provide funding for:
- the provision of 189mls (1/3 pint) (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) of plain fresh cow's milk (whole milk for children aged 1 year; semi-skimmed can be offered alongside whole for ages 2 and over), 189mls first infant formula for children under 12 months; or
- where children cannot consume cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons 189mls (1/3 pint) (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) of plain, fresh, goat or sheep milk should be provided; or
- where children cannot consume cow, goat or sheep milk, for medical, ethical or religious reasons, the provision of 189mls (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) of an unsweetened, liquid, calcium enriched non-dairy alternative drink can be provided; and
- in addition to milk or a specified alternative, a healthy snack item (a serving of fresh fruit or vegetables) for children over six months old.
Full details of what settings registered for the Scheme must provide is set out at Paragraph 17 'What must be provided under the new Scheme, below
(supplemented by Annexes A and B).
2.5 The milk and healthy snack will be provided to the child by the childcare setting. A setting should not charge parents/carers for the provision funded under the Scheme. This is discrete from any arrangements that may be in place for additional provisions such as the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) 1140 hours which are not affected by this Scheme.
3. Duration of this Guidance
3.1 This interim guidance covers the period of 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.
3.2 Terms and conditions of the Grant paid by Scottish Minsters for this period are included in the Grant award letter issued to Local Authorities. Settings have flexibility to assign funding to best suit their local needs.
4.1 Scottish Ministers are funding local authorities for the provision of milk, non-dairy alternatives and healthy snack costs using a national, combined, national flat rate of 58.2p.
4.2 Local authorities make upfront payments from 1 April to settings that have registered for the Scheme. Local authorities are required by the regulations to make at least one payment to settings during a payment period. It is recommended that local authorities introduce flexibility for scheme administration to enable settings to update initial registration data through the interim period e.g. if attendance in a setting goes up or down.
5. Eligibility for the SMHSS
5.1 Day care settings may apply to the local authority to register for the Scheme where they:
- provide pre-school care to children for 2 hours or more per day; and
- are registered with the Care Inspectorate; and
- are registered to participate in the Scheme with the local authority in which the setting is located: Information about local authorities
5.2 The Scheme is available to all regulated settings offering pre-school day care, regardless of whether they are in receipt of ELC funding. The residence of the child is not of relevance; funding is made on the basis of the provision by settings, regardless of whether the child lives in the local authority with which the setting is registered. Local authorities will have different levels of information available to them on current systems, and may wish to have different registration requirements in place for different settings.
5.3 In order to receive payment, settings must register to participate in the Scheme with the local authority in which the setting is located. If the setting is a chain or franchise, registration must be where each individual setting is located. As outlined by the Regulations, a local authority may ask a setting to provide any information it deems reasonable to support this process.
5.4 At a minimum, settings are required to opt-in to the Scheme, even where local authorities may hold all other relevant information. This is because any setting participating in the Scheme will be obliged to adhere to the Regulations, including provision of the benefit and monitoring and reporting obligations. Where a setting is run by the local authority, the local authority may confirm that it is opting in to the Scheme; this should be formally recorded.
5.5 Children who attend regulated childcare settings which have not registered with their local authority to be part of the Scheme will not be eligible to receive the benefit offered through the Scheme.
5.6 Children who attend unregulated childcare settings (those not registered by the Care Inspectorate) will not be eligible to receive the benefit offered through the Scheme.
5.7 Children will not receive the benefit offered through the Scheme if they attend a setting for less than 2 hours on an individual day.
5.8 Children will only receive the benefit offered through the Scheme once per calendar day regardless of how many additional hours they spend in an individual setting. Where children attend more than one setting in a day, they should still receive the benefit only once per day. Parents/carers and providers will be responsible for discussing how this should be managed in line with existing arrangements for agreeing division of responsibility for meals. The expectation is that the first setting in which a child spends 2 hours will provide unless agreed otherwise.
5.9 Children in receipt of childcare but who have commenced school or an equivalent (e.g. home-schooling) will not be eligible.
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