Argyll and Bute Council is now delivering 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) across the area.
The expansion is part of a national policy introduced by the Scottish Government to increase the number of funded childcare hours from 600 to 1140, for all three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds.
The Scottish Government announced in March that, due to Covid-19, local authorities would no longer be legally obliged to deliver 1140 ELC by the original August deadline. However, Argyll and Bute Council continued to progress its plans and, as a result, the additional hours are now available to all eligible children, albeit some of the current locations are being used on a temporary basis.
A total of 80 childcare settings and 29 childminders in Argyll and Bute are offering 1140 hours and an additional 79.6 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) posts have been created by the council to meet the requirements.
The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “We have been committed to getting this scheme up and running in Argyll and Bute since day one and, despite the deadline being extended, we have continued to move ahead at full steam.
“As a local authority we value the views and input of our partner providers and childminders, and we have been working closely with them throughout the process to ensure the additional hours are successfully introduced.
“Our children and young people are at the forefront of everything our education service does, and we have a clear vision and strategy in place through ‘Our Children, Their Future’ to ensure they receive the best start in life.
“The introduction of this scheme will help us to do that, by providing high quality services that help close the attainment gap, support child development, and assist parents and carers in going to work or study. Our dedicated teams have our children and young people’s best interests at heart and they have worked to get this up and running. Well done everyone.”
Anne Paterson, the council’s Chief Education Officer, said: “Our children are our future and the access to 1140 hours ELC in Argyll and Bute provides a fantastic start to their lives. I am proud to have been leading Early Years in Argyll and Bute through all the developments and endorse the Policy Lead’s thanks to all those involved.”