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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-19863: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 12 November 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the statement by the Scottish Childminding Association that “there are potentially thousands of high-quality childminding places that are not being considered as an option for parents” and what it is doing to encourage local authorities to offer qualified childminders as an option for parents.

Answered by: Maree Todd 26 November 2018

All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx .

The Forum met for the first time on 23 October and it will meet again on 12 December.

We have also worked with COSLA to establish the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Partnership Forum whose membership comprises both providers and local authority representatives. The Forum includes representation from childminders and the Scottish Childminding Association. The Forum will promote meaningful partnership working across the ELC sector; provide a forum for the sharing of best practice; and identify and propose solutions to specific issues raised by providers and/or authorities.

As set out in the Programme for Government we will ensure providers, including childminders, are supported through the transition to expanded entitlement. We are speaking to funded providers to inform the development of this delivery support package for the transition to 2020, which will be set out before Christmas.

To support this we have committed to holding a childminding summit with the SCMA and local authorities in early 2019, to identify actions to ensure parents understand the potential benefits of accessing all or part of their child’s ELC entitlement from a childminding service.

We will support families and give them the guidance that they need to make this an informed decision. This includes making parents more aware of the options available to them when accessing the funded entitlement – including the potential to use their funded hours with a childminder.

This is reflected in local authority expansion plans for delivering the funded entitlement, which are based on childminders contribution to delivering the funded hours continuing to increase as we move towards 2020.

This approach will provide increased opportunities for childminders to deliver the funded entitlement.

It will be underpinned by a National Standard that all providers delivering the funded entitlement, including childminders, will have to meet.

Our new ‘provider neutral’ Funding Follows the Child approach, which will be introduced in 2020 alongside the expanded entitlement, will empower parents to choose from a range of high quality ELC providers, including childminders.

The Scottish Government’s parental survey, Exploring parents' views and use of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland , published in August 2018 indicates that there is considerable demand from parents to increase their use of childminders as we move towards the introduction of the expanded early learning and childcare entitlement in 2020.

As referred to in the answer to question S5W-19861 on 6 November 2018 there has been welcome progress in the numbers of childminders approved to deliver, and who are actually delivering, the funded entitlement.