How many hours of free childcare can I get? When does the scheme start? How much will parents save?

The number of funded hours for early learning and childcare for Scottish children have been extended.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the changes earlier this month. Pic: Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images.

What: The change means kids can benefit from 1140 hours of free early learning and childcare each year (or 30 hours each week during term-time), and it is available to all three and four year olds, as well as two year olds who need it most.

When does the scheme start: The change starts this month.

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Where can I use it: You can access the extended hours at nurseries, childminders and playgroups.

How many people will benefit: It is expected that up to 130,000 children in Scotland will benefit from the change.

How much will parents save: The flagship commitment will reportedly save families childcare costs of around £4900 per child each year.

Funding: Delivery of the 1140 hours offer brings Scottish Government funding for early learning and childcare in 2021-22 to over £1 billion. The Scottish Government has also provided local authorities with £476 million of capital over the last four years, which has enabled them to refurbish, re-purpose and extend hundreds of existing nursery settings, as well as providing over 150 new facilities across Scotland.

Why: Explaining the change, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “All children deserve the best start in life. Providing access to free, high-quality early learning and childcare enriches children’s early years and provides them with skills and confidence for starting school and beyond. It also supports parents’ ability to work, train or study. I am delighted to announce that every local authority in Scotland has assured us they are ready to deliver the 1140 hours offer by the start of the new term – a truly transformational offer that will benefit children and families all over the country. Getting to this point, especially given the challenges of the pandemic, has taken a mammoth effort and I’d like to thank local authorities and private and voluntary sector providers for helping to make it happen.”

Want to learn more: Visit the Scottish Government site to find out more.