Transformational offer helping thousands across the country.
Families of more than 79,000 children are saving almost £5,000 per child annually, thanks to the Scottish Government's expanded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) offer.
Since August, all three and four-year-olds and two-year-olds who need it most have been eligible for 1,140 hours of funded ELC.
Latest figures from the Improvement Service show that 90,890 children were accessing free ELC at the end of August 2021.
Of those, 97% (88,122) of children were accessing more than 600 hours and 87% (79,262) were accessing the full 1,140 hours offer.
All eligible families who applied were offered 1,140 hours.
Children's Minister Clare Haughey yesterday said:
“This week marks Challenge Poverty Week, and we know that childcare costs can place a real burden on families, so it is encouraging to see that thousands of families across the country are benefiting from our transformational expanded ELC offer.
“As well as saving families a significant amount of money, the 1,140 offer supports parents' ability to work, train or study. We also know that high-quality Early Learning and Childcare helps to give children the best start in life, enriching their early years and giving them the confidence and skills they need to prepare them for school.”
COSLA Children and Young People's Spokesperson Cllr Stephen McCabe yesterday said:
“I warmly welcome the confirmation today that so many families are accessing the additional funded Early Learning and Childcare hours, which bring so many benefits to children, their parents and carers. The delivery of the expansion against the very challenging backdrop of the pandemic is a real testament to the hard work of councils and their partners.”
The Scottish Government has provided local authorities with £476 million over the last four years to refurbish, re-purpose and extend hundreds of existing nursery settings, as well as providing over 150 new facilities across Scotland.
Legislation came into effect on 1 August to make the expanded offer of 1,140 hours available across Scotland.
The total saving to families from the 1,140 hours entitlement is estimated to be £4,900 per child per annum.