Summer holiday food, activities and childcare programme: guidance for local authorities

Guidance for local authorities and commissioned partners to assist in the development of a programme of coordinated access to childcare, food, and activities during the 2022 school summer holidays.

1. Purpose

£10 million in additional funding has been allocated to Local Authorities for the targeted provision of a summer 2022 holiday programme offering coordinated access to activities, childcare and food for children age 5-14 from low income families.

The purpose of this guidance is to help Local Authorities and any commissioned partners understand how this funding can be used, expected outcomes, and high-level expectations for reporting.

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1.1 Why the funding has been provided

Transforming the system of school age childcare and expanding provision of meals to include the school holidays are key ministerial priorities set out in the Programme for Government and Covid Recovery Strategy.

Ministers have committed to: make holiday childcare provision available to all children from low-income families by 2023, starting with delivery of a summer 2022 offer to provide coordinated access to food, childcare and activities during the school holidays.

Local Authorities across Scotland have been allocated funding to augment existing summer holiday provision within their area, or where there is no existing provision, to initiate the creation of services. These services should enhance equity by widening opportunities for children from low income families to play, socialise, get active and access a range of activities that broaden their experiences, supplement their learning and deliver positive outcomes, integrating food provision wherever possible.

The expectation is that within each local authority area there will be a mix of holiday provision making best use of existing cross-sectoral capacity, including regulated and unregulated childcare services that offer flexibility and choice to families and respond to their needs. Services will vary across and within authorities, with an expected focus on coordinated services in areas with higher SIMD ratings.

Childcare and activities provision may incorporate partners from across a range of sectors, whether regulated or unregulated by the Care Inspectorate, such as local authority providers, Out of School care providers; youth work; third sector organisations and activity-based clubs providing activities in the school holidays (whose primary function is not childcare). Local Authorities should make best use of existing provision and capacity within their area, working in partnership across sectors where practicable to plan, coordinate and deliver innovative models of holiday provision.

The aim is to deliver integrated, flexible and accessible services that meet the needs of children age 5-14 from low income families, removing barriers to access which are context-specific, and shaped by issues such as geographical location, income level, family support, access to transport and the additional support needs of children. Childcare or activities should also be integrated with food and wider family support where possible for households particularly adversely impacted by poverty, as defined by this guidance.

Summer programmes should also be rights-based and reflect the diverse needs and aspirations of children and their families. Activities and childcare provision can be delivered through various language mediums and should reflect participants' needs, this includes offering sessions in Gaelic medium or other widely-spoken minority languages where appropriate. Improving the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of children and young people is key, as is making sure children and young people's views are listened to and actively inform the planning and delivery of the holiday programme as well as future policy.

1.2 Who the funding is intended to reach

This investment aligns with the national mission to tackle child poverty. It also complements wider investment in school aged childcare and free school meal replacements for eligible families based on low income, and wider investment in education recovery.

The funding is aimed at school age children age 5-14 from low income households. Around 9 in 10 children living in poverty are from households with one or more of the priority family characteristics identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, therefore 85% of this funding is intended to be targeted at children and young people from the priority family groups below:

  • Children from lone parent families
  • Children from ethnic minority families
  • Children from families with a disabled adult or child
  • Children from families with a young mother (under 25)
  • Children from families with a child under 1 year old
  • Children from larger families (3+ children)

Children from these family types are most likely to experience continued poverty-related and other structural disadvantage. Consideration should be given to how the offer can be designed and delivered in such a way that these households are able to benefit from provision on offer – for example by ensuring provision is accessible to disabled parents and children. The remaining 15% of the funding can be used flexibly to reach other children, including under-fives and older children, who would benefit from access to free holiday childcare, food and activities and will be determined at local level. Local discretion could include, but is not limited to:

  • Children from other low income families
  • Care experienced children and young people
  • Young carers
  • Children in need of protection
  • Children supported by a child's plan
  • Children with ASN
  • Children who have undergone significant transitions, for example, starting in ELC, primary or secondary school

The needs of these target groups, their views and priorities, should be considered when planning and delivering summer holiday provision to ensure services are inclusive, accessible and responsive to local needs across different language mediums, in collaboration with Local Child Poverty leads where practicable to align strategic approaches.

Partners should also work together to agree how activities and services can be delivered in remote or rural areas, where the range of existing provision might be more limited and geographic barriers to access services may be considerable.



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