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FM announces £1 million for early learning and childcare trials.
A report into what more the Scottish Government and others can do to tackle poverty in Scotland has been welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, Naomi Eisenstadt, has reported back after spending the last six months seeking views from stakeholders across Scotland, including people with experience of living on a low income.
In her 'Shifting the Curve' report, Ms Eisenstadt has made a number of recommendations to further tackle poverty around three main areas – in-work poverty, housing affordability and young people's life chances.
Confirming early action on one of the report's recommendations, the First Minister announced £1 million of funding for up to six early learning and childcare trials to test different delivery models.
The trials will consider how to increase flexibility, better meet the needs of parents and children and meet local requirements. The results will be used as part of the expansion of childcare to 1140 hours a year.
The First Minister and Ms Eisenstadt this morning visited North Edinburgh Childcare, a charity which enables local parents to access increased opportunities for work, training or education by providing affordable and flexible childcare.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
"When I appointed Naomi to the role I was clear that she would work independently and be frank and challenging in her scrutiny of not only the work the Scottish Government was doing to alleviate poverty and inequality, but also what more can be done.
"I thank Naomi for the work she has carried out and welcome the report that she has published today. We now need to study it and look at what we're doing well and should continue to do, and where we can improve. We will respond formally to the report before the end of March and set out how we intend to take forward its recommendations."
Announcing the establishment of a programme of childcare trials and the Early Learning and Childcare National Summit, the First Minister added that the government will work with childcare organisations and parents to finalise the approaches that will be tested:
"This report from the Poverty Adviser highlights the importance that access to quality early learning and childcare has for both children and adults in tackling poverty. It helps improve educational outcomes, while it allows parents and carers to return to work, education or training.
"By trialling different methods with local authorities and child care providers, we will be better able to understand what parents and children need and want, and what is actually working. This will be crucial as we move forward with our transformational expansion of childcare.
"We need to work together to achieve our dual aims of providing high quality early learning and childcare that also meets the needs of parents, and that's why we will convene a National Summit in February so we can discuss these issues and work together to deliver an expanded childcare service that plays its part in tackling poverty and improving lives."
An online copy of the report can be accessed here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/01/1984
News release from Naomi Eisenstadt on her 'Shifting the Curve' report: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Recommendations-on-tackling-poverty-2182.aspx
The childcare trials will include innovative models of Early Learning and Childcare delivery, with specific focus on 2 year olds, the most vulnerable sectors of society, high quality to reduce the attainment gap, and flexible provision to meet the needs of all families
They will encompass a wide geographical spread, ensuring characteristics such as rurality are built into our learning from the outset.
More information on Naomi Eisenstadt's appointment: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/First-Minister-appoints-poverty-adviser-1a68.aspx