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Highland on track to meet ELC expansion requirements by 2020

29th May 2019

The national expansion of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) hours will see entitlement for three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds increased from 600 to 1,140 hours per year from August 2020.

Every setting in Highland is being considered and assessed in preparation for full roll out in August 2020. The funding from the Scottish Government means that we are able to adopt a phased approach with approximately 70 sites already identified to move to 1140 hours from August 2019, with further sites expected to be identified into January 2020 before the statutory requirement in August 2020.

The ELC expansion programme aim is to reduce the poverty related attainment gap and ensure all children get the best start in life though the provision of high quality ELC. By providing an extension to the funded hours of ELC, parents who wish to access further education, training or employment will be able to do so.

The Highland Council aims to ensure families can access a high quality service that is flexible, accessible and affordable. With over 190 providers of ELC, including private, third sector and local authority settings, the Council is committed to developing proposals for the expansion of 1140 hours to more settings in 2019/20 to support Highland families' varying ELC requirements.

Parents and carers are being encouraged to understand their entitlement to ELC and will be supported to consider their options around available provision. Take up is optional and families do not have to take the full 1140 hours on offer, but rather parents and carers can consider what is in the best interests of their children and their own commitments in choosing the amount of funded childcare.

Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing committee, said: "Because the provision of high quality ELC sets a solid foundation for children to develop their learning, life and work skills and also supports parents to work, train or study we are working tirelessly to meet the expansion requirements across Highland. The evolving nature of early year’s development means we are adopting innovative approaches to recruitment, capacity, infrastructure development and service delivery in meeting this obligation."

Parents and carers wishing to find out more about the ELC options available to them are encouraged to contact the Council’s ELC project team generic email address ELCTeam@highland.gov.uk.

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