Families of more than 83,200 children are saving around £5,000 per eligible child per year, thanks to the Scottish Government’s Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) offer.
Latest figures show a year-on-year increase in children accessing funded ELC. The number taking up the full offer of 1,140 hours a year is also up from this time last year. If families paid for this themselves, it would cost them around £5,000 per eligible child per year.
A total of 93,902 children aged two to five were accessing funded ELC at the start of September – a 3% rise from the same time last year. Of those, 83,237 - 89% - were benefiting from the 1,140 hours offer.
Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said:
“Scotland is the only part of the UK to offer 1,140 hours a year of funded early learning and childcare to all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds.
“This offer saves families a significant amount of money, which is particularly important at a time when so many are struggling with cost-of-living pressures. It also supports parents into work, training or study.
“High-quality ELC benefits children, too, by enriching their early years and giving them the confidence and skills, they need to prepare them for school.
“We intend to expand our childcare offer even further, including building a future system of school age childcare and a new early learning and childcare offer for one and two-year-olds, starting with those who need it most.”
COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson Councillor Tony Buchanan said:
“I’m pleased that today’s figures confirm that nearly 94,000 two to five-year-old children are accessing funded Early Learning and Childcare delivered by Scotland’s Councils and their partners, which represents a 3% increase on the position a year ago.
“A greater proportion of children are accessing the full 1,140 hours entitlement, compared with April this year. The increased availability of funded ELC is allowing children more time to play and learn, and more opportunities for parents and carers to work, study or volunteer, as well significant financial savings for families at a time when this is so desperately needed."
In August 2021, 90,890 children were in funded childcare, with 79,262 - 87% - accessing 1,140 hours.
The total number of children eligible for funded ELC increases throughout the academic year as more children turn three years old.
Legislation came into effect on 1 August 2021 to make the expanded offer of 1,140 hours available across Scotland.