Early years obli­ga­tions in fo­cus

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - PUZZLES -

THE scale of the chal­lenge fac­ing Fife in meet­ing its early years obli­ga­tions has been thrown into fo­cus.

The re­gion must al­most dou­ble the num­ber of early learn­ing and child­care (ELC) hours two-to­four-year-olds re­ceive each year.

Up to 500 new, qual­i­fied staff, al­most £50 mil­lion in cap­i­tal fund­ing over a three-year pe­riod and more than £35m of rev­enue fund­ing an­nu­ally is needed to meet the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s tar­get of ex­pand­ing the num­ber of hours from 600 to 1,140 per an­num from Au­gust 2020.

The de­tails were in­cluded in a re­port con­sid­ered by Fife’s ed­u­ca­tion and chil­dren’s ser­vices com­mit­tee as the lo­cal author­ity pre­pares to tell the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment how it plans to pro­vide the equiv­a­lent of 30 hours per week of care to el­i­gi­ble chil­dren from 2020.

Coun­cil­lors heard Fife’s ap­proach aims to open up more choice for par­ents and car­ers and will be based around the re­gion’s seven fam­ily nur­ture cen­tres, with an agreed range of ser­vices of­fered in each of the king­dom’s 23 ex­tended lo­cal nurs­ery ar­eas. Each area will pro­vide term-time Fife Coun­cil nurs­ery pro­vi­sion, full-year coun­cil nurs­ery pro­vi­sion, a com­bi­na­tion of pri­vate nurs­eries, play­groups and child­min­ders, and wrap­around ser­vices that cover the pe­riod be­fore and after funded ELC ses­sions and school hol­i­days.

The coun­cil is also look­ing at a range of al­ter­na­tive ser­vices that could in­clude out­door nurs­eries and nurs­ery pro­vi­sion lo­cated in leisure cen­tres, work­places, health cen­tres and care homes.

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