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Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland is changing

From August 2021, your 2, 3 or 4 year old could benefit from 1140 hours a year of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC). This is free to you, funded by the Scottish Government and local authorities. That works out at about 30 hours a week if you use it during school term-time, or around 22 hours a week if you use it year-round. And you can access it at nurseries, childminders, or playgroups – or a mix of these! It just depends on what’s available near you.

Our page on entitlement to funding has more information.

How do I apply?

Your local authority will have its own application process and dates – which means you might have to apply soon. Contact them to find out when and how to apply, or to get more information about the range of providers in your area.

Some authorities are already offering the extra hours, but all local authorities will have the 1140 hours in place from August 2021.

See how they can get this much more time to play and learn

What are the big benefits of Early Learning & Childcare?

Children playing together at nursery

Children playing together at nursery

Early Learning and Childcare gives your wee one a real boost in confidence and independence, as well as building on their language and development. It’s a great way for them to make friends and play with lots of other children, while learning new things.

It can also give you the time to develop your skills, go back to work, get stuff done around the house, or even just to recharge your batteries.

See how other parents have used their free childcare

Where to begin with choosing early learning and childcare

Toddlers at nursery

Toddlers at nursery

Choosing childcare for your wee one can feel a bit daunting, and you might not know where to begin. So, it can be really helpful to visit a few local nurseries, childminders or playgroups, to help get a feel for a place. If you want to do this, phone ahead to make an appointment, so they can organise for one of their staff to show you around and answer any questions. You'll be able to access your funded hours at nurseries, childminders, or playgroups – or a mix of these!

You might also find useful:

How to prepare for the first day of nursery or childminder

You might feel nervous about how they'll settle in or be worried about leaving them for the first time. However you feel, there are things you can do to help you both prepare for this new experience.