Childcare expansion programme gathers pace

Families with young children in North Lanarkshire will soon benefit from increased nursery provision thanks to an ambitious development programme

x

The development of early learning and childcare is part of a Scottish Government policy to provide all three and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, with an increase in free childcare from 600 hours to 1140 hours a year by 2020.

At a meeting of the Education and Families committee on Tuesday 26 February councillors approved plans to provide grant funding to private funded providers of more than £370,000. The money will be used for a number of purposes including training and development of staff, HR/financial support and to increase capacity.

Cllr Frank McNally, Convener of Education said: "At its heart these exciting proposals are about introducing more flexibility and increased choice for parents.

"It is part of our overall drive to close the poverty related attainment gap while providing the high-quality learning environments and it's crucial that we work in close partnership with our funded providers. This will help our partners prepare for next year's changes.

"In addition to the grant funding, our proposed rate to funded providers is also significantly higher than the Scottish Government's guidance."

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the council will receive £38million from 2020 in revenue grant funding to support the delivery of the 1140hrs programme.

 It will give parents more flexibility in their choice of nursery and childcare services, meaning they can choose from council-run, independent and voluntary providers or childminders.

Children will also be entitled to the provision of a hot meal and the council's facility support services could support private nurseries and childminders who do not currently offer this service.

There will also be a potential increase in the number of places commissioned from independent and private nurseries dependent on parental choice.

Parents and carers should continue to apply to their preferred choice nursery for a place for their child. The council is phasing in 1140 hours over the authority with full implementation by August 2020.  If your preferred choice nursery is one the 2019 setting you will be contacted directly.

To support the plans, the council is proposing to build nine new nurseries as well as adapting seven existing facilities.

As part of the programme 40 graduate practitioner posts are being created and the council is working in partnership with local colleges to give childminders the opportunity study the SVQ Social Services (Children and Young People) qualification.

A to Z of services