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Your quick guide to childcare

What you need to know about ELC

What is ELC? It stands for Early Learning and Childcare and includes providers like nurseries, playgroups, childminders and third sector providers. In those early years when little ones are learning all the time, ELC can make a huge difference to families with young children. The Scottish Government gives all 3 and 4 years olds 600 hours of free childcare (and this is going to nearly double from August 2020) and some 2 year olds are also entitled to the free hours. Find out if your 2 year old is eligible for free childcare here

If you have questions about ELC, but don’t know where to start - then this could be a good place to begin. From funding to eligibility to finding your nearest nursery or childminder (and everything in between) hopefully we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

How do I find ELC in my area?

A quick and easy thing to do is have a look on the Care Inspectorate website to find out what’s available near you. You can also find out more about ELC in your area by visiting your Local Authorities website.


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I’m nervous about being away from my wee one. How do I know if my local ELC is good?

We totally understand. It’s a big change. Lots of parents say the best thing to do is visit a place, get a feel for it, and ask the staff while you’re there all the questions you want. We have a handy list of the kind of things you might want to ask, and you can also get an idea of the quality of a setting by reading their latest report.

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What is funded ELC?

The Scottish Government funds up to 600 hours of ELC for all 3 and 4 year olds, and around a quarter of 2 year olds. That works out at about 16 hours a week if you use it during school term-time, or 12 hours if you use it year round. And the good news is that it’s about to get even bigger and better! You can find out more details on our Funding and Entitlement page.

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When is my wee one entitled to funded ELC?

Some two year olds and all three and four year olds are entitled to funded ELC

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How can ELC help my wee one?

There’s loads of research that says ELC helps children make friends and gives their language skills a boost too. Mums, dads and carers can benefit too.

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My wee one has ASN – where do I start looking for ELC?

Parents of children with ASN have told us that it can be more of a challenge to find the right ELC. You can find out about the additional support you can get right here.

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What different types of ELC are there to choose from?

There’s plenty of different options for you to consider. Providers can range from nurseries to playgroups and childminders to outdoor learning, and many more! You can learn more about all the different types here.

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Are the staff in all the different ELC settings all qualified?

It’s really important that you know your child is being cared for by qualified people. That’s why anyone who works with children must be qualified and they also need to hold a certificate of disclosure. For more information on staff qualifications to put your mind at ease, check out our page on choosing ELC.

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I heard the funded hours are increasing? When will I be able to access more hours?

Yes they are. They will be increasing from 600 to 1140 hours from August 2020. Local authorities are rolling out the increase at different times so get in touch with them to get all the details:


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Can I use a number of different settings at the same time with my funded hours? For example, a nursery in the morning and childminder in the afternoon?

Yes in some local authority areas it’s possible to split the hours over different settings. You’ll discover which settings you can use and whether you can use your hours in a flexible way by having a chat with your local authority.


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