The Scottish Government has committed at least £280 million over the next two years to expand annual funded provision for 3- and 4-year-olds to 600 hours (almost 16 hours a week) and to extend this to the 27 per cent most disadvantaged 2-year-olds, reaching around 15 per cent of them in the first year.
Minister for Children & Young People Aileen Campbell said: “The Scottish Government is committed to improving and increasing high-quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for all children and families, and which matches the best in Europe. We have now expanded funded provision for 3- and 4-year-olds by 45 per cent since 2007 – an increase worth up to £707 a year per child – and are extending this entitlement to thousands of our most disadvantaged two-year-olds.
“Less than six months since Parliament voted for our plans, tens of thousands of children will start receiving the extra hours this week, with more than 120,000 to benefit over the school year. The legislation also requires local authorities to consult with groups of parents at least once every two years on patterns of provision that would best meet their needs. This should introduce a greater level of flexibility and choice for families as we continue working with local authorities to develop and extend provision.
“Of course, we have outlined our ambition to use the new budgetary choices and economic opportunities available with independence to transform childcare, moving to a universal system of 30 hours a week entitlement from age one, broadly the same number of hours that children currently receive in primary school . This would benefit around 240,000 children and 212,000 families, helping improve outcomes for children while supporting parents to work, train or study and boosting the economy, primarily through increased female labour market participation.”