Early Years FAQS (Published Monday 3 August)
1. Why can the Council not provide 1140 hours for funded early learning and childcare?
The expansion of early learning and childcare has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The requirement to deliver 1140 hours in August 2020 has been rescinded by Scottish Government. The Council remains committed to the delivery of the expansion and our plans were well advanced. However in order to deliver the expansion, the Council required the completion of a number of capital projects: three new centres in Bearsden, Milngavie and Kirkintilloch and an extension to the centre at Killermont Primary. These projects have been delayed due to the lockdown of the construction industry and the Council does not have sufficient capacity in its existing facilities to deliver 1140 hours to all eligible children in Session 2020/21.
The guidance from Scottish Government has now been revised and as a result the Council can now increase the capacity in our local authority centres. This means that the universal entitlement to funded hours for eligible three and four year olds can be increased to 940 hours. This is an increase from the original allocation of 750 hours and more than the statutory minimum of 600 hours. The centres in the Place priority areas will continue to provide 1140 hours to eligible 2, 3 and 4 year olds. These centres are Hillhead Early Years Centre; Auchinairn Early Years Centre; Lennoxtown Early Years Centre and Twechar Early Years Centre.
Children who live in a household, which is receipt of certain benefits are also eligible for 1140 hours funding. Parents can make application using the form on the Council website and information is available from any local authority centre or funded provider.
2. When will the Council be able to deliver 1140 hours?
We would plan to deliver 1140 hours as soon as possible but that is dependent on the completion of the four major construction projects. The three new build centres in Bearsden, Milngavie and Kirkintilloch are now scheduled to be completed in early 2021. The extension at Killermont is due to be completed in the autumn of 2020.
However, it is important to recognise the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on the construction industry. We are working closely with our construction partners to ensure that these facilities will be available as quickly as possible. We remain committed to delivering the expansion and will keep parents informed of progress.
3. Will the funded hours increase this session?
The planning by the Council is flexible as the situation, due to COVID-19, may change. We are committed to delivering 1140 hours at the earliest possible date but this will be dependent on the completion of the capital projects especially the new build centres.
4. Why can other Councils deliver 1140 hours?
All councils are in different positions in relation to the construction contracts and staffing that is required to be recruited. We do work with other councils through the Regional Improvement Collaborative that is the West Partnership. While some councils are able to deliver 1140 hours to all eligible children, others are in a similar position to East Dunbartonshire and can provide 1140 hours in some centres but in others can only deliver 600 hours.
5. When will I find out my revised allocation?
We originally let parents know of their 750 hours allocation by week beginning 13 July. This was to allow parents to request any changes that they required as we recognised that family circumstances may have changed. The further increase in allocation to 940 hours means that further sessions can be offered and parents/carers will be advised of this form Monday 3 August once centres have reviewed applications and capacity.
6. Why are the allocations two full days?
We have allocated in line with the planning for primary schools, which were developed in line with the Scottish Government Guidance for a blended model of delivery. If parents require to make any changes, we will do our best to accommodate these. With the change in guidance on 20 July, the East Dunbartonshire allocation was able to be increased from 750 hours to 940 hours
In order to comply with the Scottish Government Guidance to minimise the risk of infection and transmission, there require to be consistent groups of children. Children attending for half day sessions make this difficult as many children attend for a full day and so the membership of groups would not be consistent.
As the Scottish Government guidance has changed with restrictions eased, we will now offer half day sessions where there is capacity in centres. This will be subject to availability in a chosen centre. Enhanced cleaning and mitigation measures will be put in place due to the changes to the group of children.
7. When will parents know if schools will reopen fully in August?
Scottish Government have confirmed that schools will reopen fully on 11 August. In East Dunbartonshire, teachers return to school on Monday 10 August and pupils return to school on Wednesday 12 August.
8. Why can funded providers not deliver 1140 hours?
We want to be fair to all parents so require to have a clear criteria for awarding funding of 1140 hours. For the last two years the Early Years Centres in the areas of highest deprivation within the Council, our Place priority areas, have delivered 1140 hours. These are Hillhead EY Centre; Auchinairn EY Centre; Twechar EY Centre and Lennoxtown EY Centre. Children, who live in a household in receipt of certain benefits are also eligible for 1140 hours of funding. This is supporting families on low incomes to return to work and has been part of the pilot roll out of 1140 hours. We understand that parents will be upset and disappointed that the expected provision of 1140 hours is not possible. However it would not be fair if some centres in a locality deliver 1140 hours and others did not and so we have a clear criteria – our Place priority areas and children who live in a household in receipt of certain benefits.
We understand that private and voluntary providers have made commitments in the anticipation of delivering 1140 hours. We will continue to support funded providers if they find themselves in financial detriment, due to the decision not to fund 1140 hours at this time.
9. What about cross boundary applications? E.g I live in East Dunbartonshire but my child attends a nursery in another Council area.
The current cross boundary protocol across the West Partnership is under review. It will require the agreement of all Councils within the West Partnership. The current agreement is 600 hours of funding for children who are in partner provider in another authority.
10. Can my child go to any early years centre or a childminder?
Yes we are committed to a funding follows the child model and parents can choose a local authority centre, a private or voluntary provider or a childminder who are in partnership with the Council.
11. Will I get funding for my child from their third birthday?
Yes we will continue to fund the provision from the child’s third birthday.However this may not be the case if the child does not live in East Dunbartonshire as it would be a cross boundary application and currently funding is not allocated until the term after the child’s third birthday.
12. I have planned on getting the full funding of 1140 hours and now cannot afford to return to work.
We understand that this is a difficult time for parents and the decision by Scottish Government that Councils were no longer required to deliver 1140 hours due to the Covid pandemic is a disappointment and may result in additional financial costs. The Council is committed to delivering the full entitlement as soon as we are able to and if the Guidance changes and we are able to have full capacity in our centres, we will increase the amount of funded hours. If parents are eligible to certain benefits, they can apply for 1140 hours of funding and this can be accessed at any local authority centre or funded provider.