Easing cost of living pressures.
Thousands of families are saving around 4,900 annually thanks to funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) from the Scottish Government.
The latest figures show that 111,574 children were in funded ELC places at the end of January 2022 - an increase of 20,684 (23%), since August 2021.
Of these, 88% (97,887 children) were taking advantage of the full offer of 1,140 hours of funded ELC a year. The total saving to families from the 1,140 hours offer is estimated to be 4,900 per child per annum.
Children's Minister Clare Haughey said:
It's fantastic to see so many families accessing funded ELC and making significant savings - particularly at a time when so many are struggling with cost of living increases.
As well as saving families money, funded ELC brings real benefits for children. Providing access to free, high-quality early learning and childcare enriches children's early years and provides them with skills and confidence for starting school and beyond. It also supports parents' ability to work, train or study.
The latest figures show that at the end of January 2022:
- Every council had reported an increase between 6% and 26% in numbers of two to five-year-olds accessing funded ELC compared with August 2021
- 97% of those (108,678) were accessing more than 600 hours a year
- 20,684 more children were accessing 1,140 hours compared with August 2021
- the number of three to five-year-olds in funded places increased by 23%
- the number of two-year-olds in funded places rose from 5,966 to 6,913 - an increase of 16%
Legislation came into effect on 1 August 2021 to make the expanded offer of 1,140 hours available across Scotland.
The offer is available to all three and four-year-olds and two-year-olds who need it most.
Annual ELC census data is collected in September.