West Lothian Council: Childcare provision plan agreed
West Lothian Council’s Executive has agreed procurement arrangements for £3.5 million a year to tender for early years childcare provision as plans to provide 1140 care hours take shape.
The plan is to create a three year framework, with an option to extend to a fourth- costing £14m in total for four years. The new money will come into play from August next year when current funding expires.
Local authorities are to provide 1140 free hours of early learning and childcare from 2020 Scottish Government money paying for the expansion.
The Scottish Government published ‘Funding Follows the Child’ and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare Providers: Principles and Practice” last December. This joint publication with COSLA sets out the final version of the ‘Funding Follows the Child’ approach and the National Standard that underpins it.
The National Standard sets out the criteria that all providers who wish to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet from August 2020.
A report to committee said: “This will provide reassurance to parents and carers that any provider offering the funded hours can offer their child a high quality early learning and childcare experience.”
‘Funding Follows the Child’ places choice in parents’ and carers’ hands, enabling them to access their child’s funded entitlement from any provider that meets the new National Standard, where they have a place available and are willing to enter into a contract with the local authority.
The Scottish Government has determined that the rate for funded ELC placements is to be set locally. Consultation is currently being undertaken with partner providers in relation to the rate for 2020 and once set will be stipulated within the tender documents.
The revised rate will include funding to provide a free meal for all children with a funded placement and enable partner providers to pay the National Living Wage (£9.30 per hour) to staff providing direct care to children in funded placements, both requirements of the National Standard.