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Council considers childcare changes

THE effects of Covid-19 and a change in Scottish Government policy on early learning and childcare will be discussed at Dumfries and Galloway Council tomorrow. Elected members will be updated on the Scottish Government revoking a statutory duty to provide 1,140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare [ELC] from August 2020 following the Covid-19 emergency. Holyrood had required education authorities to secure 1,140 hours of ELC provision for all eligible children from August 2020, an increase from 600 hours. In a letter to Directors of Education, the Scottish Government reiterated its commitment to ensuring that the expansion will still be delivered in full but offered local authorities the discretion to rephase expansion. Council Leader Elaine Murray said: “Our Council was on track to fulfil the statutory duty to deliver 1,140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare from August 2020. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 emergency means that this isn't now practicable. “Due to the pandemic and resulting lockdown, Council officers are now working with headteachers and nursery managers to allocate places in school nurseries, taking into account Scottish Government guidance and the need to achieve social distancing.” Depute Leader Rob Davidson said: “Council officers have carried out a regionwide mapping exercise of existing childcare capacity, including local authority nurseries, private and voluntary providers, and childminders. We will able to provide places to all families within their cluster area when we can return to ‘normal' and planned building works are completed. However, during the current situation, it won't be possible for all families to be able to access their first choice of childcare and it will be necessary for us to offer an alternative.” It is expected that the Scottish Government and Public Health will issue further guidance on social distancing during the recovery process, which may impact the numbers of children attending a service at any one time. This, warn the council, “will impact the delivery of the full number of 1,140 hours being offered across the region due to the potential need to limit the numbers of children being able to access services at any one time. Plans will respond and adapt to further guidance once this has been received.” They add: “Following completion of the allocation process, parents will be informed by letter of their child's place and the hours that their child can access, which will continue to depend on national guidance on social distancing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. This may mean that access to the full 1,140 hours won't be available until normal circumstances resume. However, the council will make every effort to provide as many hours to children as possible during the recovery period.” The meeting discussing the issue tomorrow is the council's Covid-19 sub-committee which will be streamed over the internet. To watch, first register via https://t.co/VEZyqreBDn?amp=1

<< back Published: 11 Jun 2020, 12:25

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