Early learning and childcare entitlement extended further

Changes to the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) allocation policy and the extension of entitlement to 2 year olds of parents who have experience of care was approved at the recent meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet.

In March 2021, the Scottish Government reinstated legislation, which came into effect on 1 August 2021, ensuring that local authorities provide 1140 hours of funded ELC to all eligible children. This legislation supports the ambition for all children in Scotland to grow up feeling loved, safe, respected and able to reach their full potential.

The expansion of ELC will help to secure positive outcomes for all of our children and an important new development is the introduction of funded ELC to 2 year olds of parents who have experience of care. This means that anyone who has been looked after or accommodated by a local authority, at any point in their lives and for any length of time, can access a funded place for their child.

New income thresholds have also been introduced for funded ELC for 2 year olds. Child Tax credit and Working Tax Credit and income is now £7500 or less and Universal Credit with household take-home pay, is now £625 a month or less.

The Scottish Government has also announced that from August 2023, children who are aged 4 years old on the date they are eligible to start school and whose parents choose to delay their primary 1 start, will receive an additional year of funded ELC. For now, there is no change in the rules around funded ELC for children who parents wish to delay their start to primary 1. Any decision taken on an additional year of funded ELC will be based on an assessment of wellbeing, putting the child at the centre and working in partnership with families.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning, Education and Skills and Culture said: “The expansion of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) provision and the introduction of 1140hrs to all eligible children will, without any doubt, improve outcomes for local children. High quality ELC makes a significant contribution to a child's development and to closing the poverty related attainment gap, improving family wellbeing and supporting parents and carers into work, study or training. Something that is particularly important due to the impact of the pandemic.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teams behind the full implementation of 1140 hours in East Ayrshire. This could only have been achieved by strong partnership working and the commitment of the Central Early Years team, Finance, Facilities and Property Management, Procurement, Planning and of course the ELC workforce and childminders across East Ayrshire who are delivering the service to our children and families.

“In East Ayrshire, 91% of eligible children are enjoying Early Learning and Childcare, which is an important stage in a child’s development and helps children to learn through play. The work of our ELC employees and local childminders builds on the valuable learning that takes place in and around the home and promotes the development of essential skills that children rely on later in life.”

All providers of government funded early learning and childcare are currently inspected by the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland. Practitioners follow national practice guidance for the learning and care of children aged 0-5 years that encourage learning through play.