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Collaborative working is crucial for childcare sector potential to be realised in Scotland, according to a report published today by the Commission for Childcare Reform.
Seeking to establish ‘an ambitious long-term vision for childcare that meets the needs and aspirations of children, families and the economy,’ the report’s key recommendations propose that: every child up to the age of 12 is entitled up to 50 hours of high quality childcare and education per week; that this entitlement, plus the 600 hours a year that children are eligible for, is free at the point of delivery; that the balance of 50 hours is accessible and affordable for all families; and that provision is organised to allow for parents to work or study.
Children in Scotland chief executive, Jackie Brook, and Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Ross Martin, outline their vision for ‘quality and equality’ within the report:
‘Over 15 months of investigation the Commission has cast its net wide, hearing views from across Scottish civic society. Crucially, it has placed business development and the needs of employers at the core of offering solutions for parents and carers, and providers, while always ensuring that children’s best interests are first and foremost. It has proposed in detail how to secure long-term transformation in childcare, and laid down some challenges that will need to be discussed and met head-on. The Commission's vision provides a powerful base for taking forward Scotland’s priorities to reduce poverty and support equality.
‘The Commission makes a number of ambitious calls for action at UK, Scottish and local government level that will require collaborative working to examine and, where appropriate, put into action. For example, it believes every child up to the age of 12 should be entitled to up to 50 hours of high quality childcare and education per week throughout the year.
‘Priority should be given to smoothing cost burdens for all families and supporting those families who live in or near poverty. Children in Scotland will be exploring with Alliance members whether the recommendation of a Child Account is a way of achieving this. The Commission also recommends that the Scottish Government – working together with the UK Government, local authorities and providers – should commission a fundamental review of all aspects of the funding of childcare.’
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) chief executive, Purmina Tanuku, who contributed to vital evidence within the report, welcomes the direction, saying:
“We are pleased that the Commission has highlighted all the issues that we have been campaigning to change for several years now, including the chronic lack of funding for free places and difficulties with flexibility and availability of these funded hours.
“We hope the Commission’s conclusion that high quality childcare is good for children, families and the economy should drive their recommendations forward and inject substantial levels of investment into the sector.
“The report points to a lack of parental choice and availability of free childcare – but there is plenty of untapped available high quality childcare within private, voluntary and independent nurseries. Unfortunately many of these settings are not being given the opportunity to provide the free hours, because local authorities choose which providers will deliver this service.
“With the Commission also recommending that each child should have their own account for childcare funding, we hope this will increase opportunities for private nurseries to deliver free places.”