Date lodged: 11 August 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what action it takes to ensure that childcare is available for children of parents who work unsociable hours.
Answered by: Mark McDonald 1 September 2016
The Scottish Government is committed to providing high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that meets the needs of children and their families. That is why we have increased the amount of funded early learning and childcare to 600 hours a year for all three and four year olds, and extended this to over a quarter of all two year olds, through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act has also placed flexibility on a statutory footing for the first time, and has placed a duty on local authorities to consult with local groups of parents every two years on patterns of hours that will best suit their needs.
Increased flexibility will allow more parents to work, train or study, however the priority is to improve the outcomes of children so it is intended that children access their funded hours at a time of day that best suits their learning and development, as well as at times that provide consistency for the child.
The Act also introduced a requirement on education authorities to consult on ‘if and how’ they could best deliver or support additional unfunded hours of early learning and childcare and out of school care for school aged children. The purpose of this is to create an opportunity to co-ordinate consultation and planning of all mandatory early learning and childcare, day care and out of school care along-side discretionary provision which local authorities have powers to deliver or support.
The Scottish Government recognises the challenges facing parents who work unsociable hours and provides funding to organisations such as the Care and Learning Alliance who provide tailored solutions to childcare needs, including for those parents who work unsociable hours.