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Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland is changing

When will the Early Learning and Childcare hours increase?

The ongoing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means that the Scottish Government and local authorities can’t guarantee the expanded funded ELC hours will be available everywhere from August 2020. Local authorities and other providers are busy meeting the childcare needs of keyworkers. All other childcare is closed at the moment for public safety reasons. Lots of planned work to prepare for August (like recruitment and building projects) can’t go ahead at the moment.

The full expansion to 1140 hours will still happen, but at a later date.

The good news is that a lot of local authorities already have capacity to deliver some expanded places. This is both in their own nurseries and family centres and through contracts with local private and third sector nurseries, playgroups and childminders. That’s likely to still be the case when the public health advice changes and ELC settings are able to reopen for everyone.

If your child should be attending ELC in August 2020, you’ll be wondering what this means for you. Local authorities are working hard to see what places will be available and to update you as soon as possible. The decisions they make will be down to the national public health advice on how we best respond to COVID-19.

Critical childcare provision

The Scottish Government and local authorities are working together to ensure key workers with no other option for childcare can request access for childcare to allow them to continue to play their vital role in the national response to COVID-19. Decisions around eligibility for key worker childcare will be taken locally, in line with the guidance available here.

We want to reduce the impact of the virus, keep children and families safe and save lives. Only key workers who cannot fulfil their critical functions may qualify for critical childcare provision. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

Frequently asked questions

Why aren’t funded hours increasing to 1140 as planned?

The ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic means that unfortunately the full increase of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) to 1140 hours a year won’t be available in August 2020. This is because local authorities are busy meeting the critical childcare needs of keyworkers, and because other things like recruitment and building projects won’t be able to go ahead at the moment.

The full increase to 1140 hours will still take place, but at a later date.

We know that most local authorities already had capacity to deliver some increased places. That’s still likely to be the case when ELC settings reopen, but local authorities will need some time to work out how this will be delivered.

When will funded hours be increasing to 1140?

Local authorities will be working out how what they are able offer and sharing updated plans with parents as soon as possible. This will include information about the places they can provide and revised timetables for placements.

Unfortunately, they won’t be able to answer your questions right now as they are busy with the immediate response to the Covid-19 pandemic, so please give them time to work through the changes that they will have to make.

Do I need to reapply for ELC next year?

Local authorities will be working out their capacity and sharing updated plans with parents as soon as possible. That will include information about revised timetables, available provision and whether or not new applications will be required.

When will I find out about my child’s placement?

Local authorities are currently working hard to put in place critical childcare for key workers. They will be sharing revised timetables and wider information about local ELC placements as soon as possible.

Will my setting still offer 1140 hours?

It’s likely that local authorities will  be able to offer some expanded places when ELC settings reopen fully. It is too early to say where these places will be. Local authorities will be sharing this information as soon as possible.

My child received a 1140 place last year – will they still get it next year?

It’s likely that local authorities will  be able to offer some expanded places when ELC settings reopen fully. But it’s too early to say where these places will be or how they will be allocated. Local authorities will be sharing this information as soon as possible.
 

When will ELC settings reopen?

ELC settings will only open when it is safe to do so. At the moment there is not a set timeline for reopening, beyond the critical childcare currently being provided for keyworkers and vulnerable children. However, childminders and outdoor nurseries may be able to open sooner than other settings.
Our section on changes to coronavirus restrictions has more information.