Date lodged: 14 October 2016
To ask the Scottish Government, further to its analysis that showed that 46% of parents who do not use the childcare they are entitled to cite a lack of availability, how it will increase the provision of childcare in large urban areas.
Answered by: Mark McDonald 3 November 2016
The Scottish Government is committed to providing high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that meets the needs of children and their families. That is why we have increased the amount of funded early learning and childcare to 600 hours a year for all 3 and 4 year olds, and extended this to over a quarter of all 2 year olds, through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act has also placed flexibility on a statutory footing for the first time, and has placed a duty on local authorities to consult with local groups of parents every 2 years on patterns of hours that will best suit their needs. It is therefore through this consultation process that any specific needs, such as availability in large urban areas, will be identified and addressed.
More broadly, provision has increased nationally through additional hours. The Care Inspectorate’s overview of initial expansion, published in March 2016, indicated that “Local authorities have generally succeeded in making available 600 hours for all eligible children” and, “The clear progress being made by local authorities to measure and meet parental demand for early learning and childcare is welcome, and there is a need to embed effective and widespread methods for consulting parents”. We will continue to work with local authorities to increase and accelerate choice and access to early learning and childcare.