East Ayrshire has been selected as one of 11 locations across Scotland to participate in the next round of early learning and childcare expansion trials.
Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald announced the locations for the trials which will test a variety of different delivery models including:
• Making additional hours available through local childminders as part of a blended approach
• Linking provision of early learning and childcare to local employability services aimed at helping parents to access employment, training or education
• Co-locating early learning and childcare services and out of school care services
There are currently 14 trials taking place to test out different delivery models, forming part of the Scottish Government’s wider drive to increase the quality and flexibility of provision as work towards delivery of 1140 hours of early learning and childcare by 2020 continues.
Mr McDonald said: “We know the early years are a crucial time in every child’s life and evidence shows that access to high quality early learning and childcare is key to improving attainment. By giving Scotland’s young people the best possible start in life we can ensure they develop the skills and confidence they need to reach their full potential.
“I particularly welcome this pilot because it will involve a blend of different types of childcare. This is a more flexible model that we know parents want to see more of.
“Parents and carers also benefit from a high quality, flexible system of early learning and childcare as it helps to support routes in to work, training or further study which may not have previously been accessible.
“That is why this government is committed to almost doubling the free entitlement to 1140 hours per year by 2020, while delivering the flexibility families need. By piloting different delivery models in partnership with local authorities we will be better able to understand what parents and children need and want.”
Janie Allen, Strategic Education Manager (Early Intervention) at East Ayrshire Council welcomed the minister’s announcement.
She said: “We are delighted to have been selected to participate in the next round of childcare trials. We have a large and vibrant childminding sector in East Ayrshire -with around 200 registered childminders – and well established protocols for placing vulnerable young children with specially trained and assessed community Childminders.
“Recent consultation indicates parents are keen for their children to access establishment based sessional early learning and childcare and for this to be supplemented with home-based care (child-minding) where this is needed for work, training or education purposes.
“This trial aims to expand the existing referral model to provide blended early learning and childcare options and will provide an opportunity to develop partnership working with the broader childminding community.”
The trials will also take place in Argyll and Bute, Dundee, Glasgow, Western Isles, Shetland Isles, North Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire, Midlothian and Angus.
They are all due to commence by summer 2017 and will be supported by over £827,000 Scottish Government funding. The Scottish Government will provide total funding of over £950,000 in support of trials, including the three trials already announced.