£1.3m pre-school boost announced

An extra £1.3m is being invested in pre-school provision across Argyll and Bute.

From August this year the total available  will go up from 475 hours to 600 hours annually, and will include two- and three-year-old children.

This free early learning and childcare will be extended further to include children aged two who are, or have been, looked after by the council, and for households where no-one is working.

From August 2015, free pre-school provision will be further extended to include two-year-old children who are eligible to receive free school meals.

The council’s policy lead for children and families, Mary Jean Devon, said: “Consultation has shown that for busy parents the benefits are obvious; the difference is simply that during term time, free childcare and pre-school provision will be increased from 12.5 hours to over 15 hours a week – with each session being increased by 40 minutes.

“There are further far-reaching benefits, however, in that increased provision may lead to increased employment both within the private sector and the council itself in order to cover the flexibility.”

The council is making these changes in line with the Children and Young People Bill which was published in April 2013, and which seeks to improve the way services work to support children, young people and families.