Allocation of early learning and childcare places
The allocation of early learning and childcare (ELC) places in East Ayrshire was delayed due to the priority to concentrate on providing critical childcare in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Scottish Government route map to recovery set out the plans for easing COVID-19 restrictions in four phases, with the reopening of ELC settings taking place during Phase 3.
The strategic framework
Published on Thursday 21 May 2020, the strategic framework identified three groups for priority access to provision where capacity was limited:
- children who may be provided with access to daycare services under section 27 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995
- children eligible for the funded entitlement of 600 hours of ELC, ie eligible two year olds and all three and four year olds
- key worker families (as determined by the Scottish Government) requiring critical childcare
The Council’s Executive Committee agreed to seven key principles for the allocation of ELC places. The principles are:
- every eligible child resident in East Ayrshire will be allocated a place
- a small number of full time places will be provided in early childhood centres for key worker families requiring critical childcare, where capacity is available
- cross boundary applications will be allocated a place, if capacity is available
- as a starting point, each ECC will aim to allocate every eligible child an initial two sessions per week
- depending on overall numbers, staffing capacity and public health measures and advice, the number of hours or sessions may change over time as experience shows what can be safely managed
- every early childhood centre will work towards the delivery of 600 hours at a pace that takes account of the national ELC framework guidance and the three groups identified in the Strategic Framework who will have priority to that capacity
- we will work with our funded providers to reopen and deliver ELC as per the national ELC framework guidance
Capacity is affected by the public health measures, set out by the Scottish Government
National guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services
National guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services in Phase 3 was published on 15 June 2020. This included limiting the contact between groups of children, physical distancing for adults, and strict hygiene standards for everyone.
On this basis we were able to allocate two sessions per week to all children who had applied.
What happens now?
Scottish Government Guidance was updated on 30 July 2020 and some easing of restrictions has allowed us to plan for the rephrasing in of the current entitlement of 600 hours over five sessions by the 17 August 2020.
Services delivering 1140 hours of early leaning and childcare before lockdown or previously resourced for delivery of the increased hours will reintroduce these by 22 September 2020.
We are currently working with ECCs to plan the allocation of places however the constraints of the guidance mean that it will not always be possible to give all parents their preferred pattern of attendance.
Where this is the case, the Allocations Policy will apply and ballots may be necessary.
Download our Guide to Early Learning and Childcare (PDF 2.23Mb) which includes the Allocations Policy 2020/21.