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‘Unfair’ childcare policy limits access for children in Scotland

‘Unfair’ childcare policy limits access for children in Scotland

Calls are being made for parents in Scotland to be allowed to take up government-funded nursery places at all establishments meeting the right criteria.


The Scottish Government offers up to 600 hours of funded nursery provision per year for all three- and four-year-olds. However, in many areas these hours are only available through council nurseries or in private ‘partnership’ nurseries. Many councils limit the number of partnership nursery places available, largely for financial reasons. This means that working parents who require full-time care for their children can struggle to find a suitable place.

Virtual vouchers

‘Unfair’ childcare policy limits access for children in ScotlandNow Reform Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to introduce a ‘virtual vouchers’ scheme, which would allow parents to take up their pre-schooler’s free nursery place at any nursery meeting the Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate standards.

A briefing note from Reform Scotland stated: “It is unfair on both parents and children for the Scottish Government to set a policy, but allow local authorities to restrict the ability of parents to access that vital provision. It is not an excuse to argue that you have provided enough places in local authority nurseries if parents are unable to access those places because the hours or location on offer make it impossible to take up.”

Full-time care

Reform Scotland’s research director Alison Payne explained why the think tank believes change is needed: “This is not about the private sector versus the public sector but acknowledging that most council nurseries do not provide the full-time care that working parents need, and therefore for all children to be guaranteed to receive government-funded nursery provision the money must follow the child.

“We have a simple suggestion – if an independent nursery meets the Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate standards, parents should by right be able to take their full government-funded entitlement there as a ‘virtual voucher’. This is not radical and already happens in some areas in Scotland. However, Reform Scotland believes that this should extend to all working families in Scotland.”





About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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