By Democrat reporter
More than 800 West Dunbartonshire families are accessing additional free childcare one year ahead of the scheduled 2020 implementation date.
The Scottish Government’s commitment to providing 1140 hours of free childcare to every three and four-year-old and eligible two-year-old in the country will be realised in August next year.
Work to introduce the in West Dunbartonshire expansion is progressing at speed, and Council-run facilities are already providing additional hours to almost 600 and a further 220 children are accessing extra hours through private providers.
In addition, a number of recruitment initiatives are underway to attract new staff members to Early Learning and Childcare roles.
Across West Dunbartonshire, 60 qualified ELC practitioners and 30 new facilities staff will be required, providing an exciting opportunity for current staff to retrain and progress to managerial and leadership roles and for new staff to join the Council.
Information sessions to highlight and promote a career in early years to adults and school leavers in partnership with West College Scotland successfully led to an additional twenty individuals in the area going on to study Childhood Practice.
Cllrs Karen Conaghan and Ian Dickson of West Dunbartonshire Council.
Councillor Karen Conaghan, Convener of Educational Services, said: “Plans are progressing well and it is great to see we are offering hundreds of children additional hours one year earlier than planned. This provision will be a great help to families and I would like to thank officers for all their hard work in ensuring we are ahead of schedule to deliver the additional hours.”
Depute Convener of Educational Services, Councillor Ian Dickson, said: “It is great to see the expansion of the service and how the additional hours are not only providing support to parents, but also providing employment opportunities to our residents. Officers have worked tirelessly to implement the enhanced hours and ensure we are on track to fully implement the Scottish Government 1140 free hours of childcare in West Dunbartonshire.”
The Council is investing £25.7 million over four years in developing existing and new centres to meet the demand.