Damning report highlights failure of Scottish childcare policy

The commission said all financial support could be put into the account with the money only used to pay for childcare delivered by a provider registered in Scotland.

The interim report makes no judgement on who would control the account and suggests it could be a mechanism for councils to channel resources directly to nurseries on behalf of the child.

However, it adds: “The account could be used to give parents more direct access to how and where they spend on childcare.”

Under SNP legislation, families are entitled to a mandatory 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare for three and four-year-olds.

However, a recent survey found fewer than one in six councils in Scotland have enough childcare capacity to meet the needs of working parents.

As a result thousands are missing out on their entitlement because they have to use private providers instead where state funding is often restricted.

The interim report states: “Parents in Scotland….. generally pay much more for childcare than they do in other European countries. The prices charged for childcare in the UK are rising faster than inflation and the prices for Scottish parents are rising faster than is found in the rest of the UK.

“Many families told us they found it hard to find the pattern of childcare they needed to suit their particular circumstances. In some cases, it was impossible to access all-day childcare combined with the entitlement to free early education.”

The report found some some local provision demonstrated “very high” coordination, but in other areas arrangements were uncoordinated and very hard for parents to fit in with, adding: “We struggle to understand why the best arrangements have not been replicated across local authorities.”

It adds: “We have struggled to understand how the various streams of public money operate to help families meet childcare costs. They are not provided in a simple and coordinated way that is easy for families to understand and access, with the effect that families can lose out on claiming their full entitlements.”

The findings were welcomed by Glasgow-based campaigning group Fair Funding for Our Kids, who have highlighted many of the problems facing parents, although a spokeswoman said there was no indication of how many families were missing out.

In particular the campaign welcomed a suggestion that parents should be allowed to pay for affordable top-up hours beyond their child’s legal right to 600 free hours.

She said: “Right now this is not an option for thousands of families. There are mums in our group who have turned down work because the rigid way councils currently provide free hours means they cannot arrange childcare for the full working day.”

The commission was set up by Childcare Alliance, a network of partners drawn from civic society, business and the childcare sector, and led by Children in Scotland and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).

Jackie Brock, Alliance chair and chief executive of Children in Scotland, said: “The UK and Scottish Governments simply must get on with working closely with each other to develop solutions based around the total funding relevant to childcare,” she said.

The commission, which is chaired by Colin MacLean, former Director of Financial Strategy for the Scottish Government, will publish its final report this summer.

Source Article from http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/damning-report-highlights-failure-of-scottish-childcare-policy.121626534?utm_source=www.heraldscotland.com&utm_medium=RSS%20Feed&utm_campaign=Scottish%20News
Damning report highlights failure of Scottish childcare policy
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/damning-report-highlights-failure-of-scottish-childcare-policy.121626534?utm_source=www.heraldscotland.com&utm_medium=RSS%20Feed&utm_campaign=Scottish%20News
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