Access to Childcare Fund - The Learning So Far

At the start of October in partnership with the Scottish Government, Children in Scotland, Indigo Childcare, SupERKids and St Mirins Out of School Care, SOSCN held an online event showcasing the work of the Access to Childcare Fund.

The Access to Childcare Fund is funded by Scottish Government and managed by Children in Scotland. In 2020, 15 projects across Scotland received grants to address challenges and barriers encountered by parents accessing school aged (SAC) childcare. The overall aim of the fund is to better understand how SAC services can be more accessible and affordable for low-income families, and for this learning to help shape the Scottish Government's plan for the future development of school age childcare services. Although phase one of the funding is now complete, a second phase has started which provides continued funding for eight of the projects to allow them to further test their particular delivery model over a longer period of time.

5 tests of change have been considered through the funding:

  • Does subsidised school aged childcare support families to gain, sustain or progress in employment or learning?
  • Does targeted Family Support empower families to improve their quality of life and improved outcomes?
  • Do working families require weekend/ holiday childcare?
  • Can a referral scheme, subsidised childcare options and a family support function, support the longer-term sustainability of out of school care provision for older children and young people?
  • Does flexibility of hours increase uptake?

Although projects faced difficulties and added pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were successfully delivered, and as a result a number of recommendations have been developed, including:

  • Funding must be available to subsidise the cost of childcare (and associated costs, such as transport) to support families on low incomes to access these services and obtain the associated benefits.
  • Specialist services for children with additional support needs are particularly expensive because of the greater number of skilled staff required. Additional funding must be available across Scotland to ensure that children with ASN get equal access to school-aged childcare.
  • Childcare should be recognised as an important part of the wider children's services landscape, and childcare providers should be included in children's services planning processes.
  • Transport arrangements must be viewed as part of a holistic childcare offer.
  • Childcare providers should consider how they incorporate children's views into service design, delivery and evaluation. Scotland's move towards incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will provide further impetus for this.

Indigo Childcare- Family Support Model

Indigo childcare delivers early years, school age childcare, a youth service and mobile creche in various locations in Glasgow. Indigo received Access to Childcare Funding for their Family Matter project which is their flexible model of support that reflects the needs of the community and the families it serves. By supporting families, the project:

  • Gives children and young people the best possible start in life &
  • Improves their quality of life by making progress out of short or longer-term poverty and its associated challenges
  • Helps their children attain their fullest potential in health, well-being and education

The project has already shown to be invaluable to local families, many of whom are reporting an increased sense of wellbeing; an increase in their household finances, and ability to access or increase employment or training as a direct result of Family Matters' support.

SupERKids – specialist service for children with ASN and disabilities

SupERKids is a parent-led but child-focussed service providing in East Renfrewshire play and social opportunities for children with complex needs and disabilities, as well as temporary respite care for parents and carers. The Access to Childcare Funding allowed the service to further expand their normal services and provided a level of continuity and ongoing opportunities for children during the pandemic.

Although successful the project cannot meet demand and it is clear that more dedicated specialist services like SupERKids are required across Scotland with appropriate levels of funding.

St Mirins – the achievements of partnership and collaboration

St Mirins is a voluntary sector SAC service located within St Mirins Primary school in the southside of Glasgow and had a number of very specific aims, to deliver:

  • Early Bird Breakfast & Play
  • Crisis & Intervention (families from the school)
  • 20% Subsidy Annual Fees All Parents
  • School Specialism (unique, innovative referral system from school to OSC)
  • Play Nights (Post Covid Recovery Plan)
  • Create a Shared Play & Learning Space in Derelict Wooded Area (OSC and School)

The project has had a lot of success and shown how professional working between out of school care and school can effectively support and enhance children (and their families) wellbeing and life opportunities.

Further resources:

Scottish Government presentation

Children in Scotland presentation

Access to Childcare Fund Video

Access to Childcare Fund Report

last updated: 14/11/2022