Campaigners Demand Childcare Provision Overhaul

A nursery campaign group has called on Scotland's political parties to stop focusing on free childcare hours and commit to a 10-year plan to radically overhaul the system.

Fair Funding for our Kids has published a four-pledge manifesto ahead of the Holyrood election in May.

The group is coming to the end of its two-year campaign for improvements to the system.

The Scottish Government has pledged to increase free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 600 hours a year to 1,140 hours during the next parliament.

Other parties have also made pledges on the number of free hours which should be provided.

The group says this is "over-simplistic'' because if families cannot use their free hours then they get nothing.

It estimates as many as one in five children miss out on their current legal entitlement to 600 hours.

It has also called for the parties to commit to a long-term strategy by bringing together the findings of reports on affordability, staffing and quality, and spending two years coming up with an overarching vision.

Further commitments called for by the group are capital investment needed to match the transformational plan, and an interim measure for children who require nursery places now.

Jenny Gorevan of the campaign said: "Experiences during our two-year campaign have reflected badly on policy delivery in modern Scotland.

"The childcare system is a mess. It needs a radical overhaul and a slogan jotted on the back of an envelope doesn't cut it.''

She added: "Every party knows something needs to be done. We have won that argument.

"Our challenge now to the politicians is that they work together in the first two years of the parliament to develop a shared vision for the future of Scottish childcare and deliver it over 10 years. No single party gets the credit and no single party gets the blame.''

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