What is ELC?
It stands for Early Learning and Childcare and includes providers like nurseries, playgroups and childminders. In those early years when little ones are learning all the time ELC can make a huge difference to families with young children. And here’s the really good bit - all 3 and 4 year olds, and around a quarter of 2 year olds can get up to 600 hours of childcare, funded by the Scottish Government and local authorities. And it’s about to get even bigger and better.
From August 2020, your funded hours will nearly double to 1140 a year. That's up to 30 hours a week if you use it during school term time, or around 22 hours a week if you use it year round.
Sheila and her children Chloe and Liam make the most of their free ELC hours. Here’s their story.
When will that change happen?
This will be available for everyone from August 2020, but the increase is being phased in right now but each local authority will be doing it differently. What’s being offered in this ‘phasing period’ might not be the same as what will be on offer from August 2020. For more information on how the extra hours are being rolled out in your area.
To get in touch with your Local Authority, use the drop down box below:
Who provides ELC?
Depending on the providers your local authority partners with, it could be a nursery, childminder or playgroup. They will be registered with the Care Inspectorate, and if they have a space available, they should be happy to offer your child a place.
What are the different types available?
Childminders usually look after children in their own home. Normally it’s just for a small group of children and can often include the childminder’s own kids too.
Childminders are self-employed, and can sometimes be more flexible with their working hours. They follow the same type of curriculum as nurseries and playgroups, & will make the most of local parks, libraries and even other playgroups to provide your child with lots of fun and learning.
Playgroups are voluntary sector services run by parent committees, often with other parents helping out. They follow the same guidelines as nurseries with the same commitment to staff qualifications and ratios. Like nurseries, playgroups offer kids loads of different indoor and outdoor activities to get them inspired during the day and burn off lots of energy while they're at it!
Children and family centres:
Children and family centres (also called Community nurseries) usually offer a full-day for wee ones from 0 - 5 years. They can also include other helpful support and services for families.
What kind of flexibility can I get?
Well, it really all depends on what’s available in your area. What’s on offer will be different all over the country. But there are many different types of ELC out there which means you might be able to choose from:
- Full days
- Part days
- School days
- Term time or year round.
How to find your nearest provider:
You can find registered providers in your area by visiting the Care Inspectorate website. You can also contact your local authority to find out about funded places near you from the drop-down list below
Do I have to take the funded hours?
No, the hours are an entitlement, not a requirement, so you can choose to take all or part of the hours available to you.
How do I access these hours?
Each local authority has its own application process and dates – which means you might have to apply a year in advance depending on where you live. Contact them to find out when and how to apply by using the dropdown below.
Who doesn't provide ELC?
There are other childcare options that parents sometimes choose that don’t offer funded Early Learning and Childcare. For example:
Out of School Care
This is usually for school age children and includes breakfast clubs, after school clubs and services, and holiday clubs. Many also provide a full-day service during the school holidays.
They offer drop-in care for children to allow adults time to tackle other things, like further education, shopping or having a break! Sometimes these are registered with the Care Inspectorate and have inspections available online, but not all creches have to be registered.