Council agrees continued focus on supporting early learning and childcare sector throughout pandemic

Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay, has been granted delegated authority by councillors to continue to support emergency childcare provision delivered by partner providers during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee have granted Mr Findlay the authority to award grant funding of up to £1.1million to local partner providers for emergency childcare from March to August 2020.

Mr Findlay had been exercising delegated powers to fund the scheme until the meeting of the committee last week.

He explained: “Our funded partners have seen a significant increase in operating costs to remain open during this crisis and it has been absolutely crucial for us to step in and allocate grant funding to enable them to support the delivery of learning and childcare for the children of key workers.”

Aberdeenshire Council has 17 of its own learning and childcare hubs to deliver emergency care for vulnerable children and children of key workers. They are also supporting eight private nurseries and 35 childminders through this grant scheme to provide much needed care. In addition, the local authority is continuing to support funded partners with payments for children who would have been eligible for funded childcare, even if they are closed – an approach which has been agreed nationally to support the continuity of the sector.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, commented: “We are fully supportive of officers’ approach to doing everything they can to support and work closely with our funded early years partners throughout this period. We have been funding the extended 1140 provision in partner settings for more than a year and will work with partners to consider the extent of this provision from August.

“What we’ve agreed here in terms of this grant funding is another demonstration of our commitment to the sector as well as ensuring continuity of care and education for the children of key workers across Aberdeenshire.”

Vice chair, Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “I’m pleased to see another great example of strong partnership working as well as excellent leadership in the way the service has navigated these unchartered waters. Our funded partners play a vital role in the delivery of early learning and childcare across our local area and we hope this will go some way towards seeing them through this crisis.”

For more information and to read the report in full please visit https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=494&meetid=19545

A webcast of the committee, which took place on Thursday, May 28, is available on the Aberdeenshire Council website: https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/487935