Flexible, affordable, accessible and high quality early learning and childcare. Is it possible? Can it work?
Our Dundee and Aberdeenshire flexible childcare services are living, breathing, caring, playing and learning proof that yes, it is totally possible to provide truly flexible, tailored care solutions that meet the needs of children, families, the community and the early learning and childcare workforce.
Last week we were delighted to have the opportunity to share our story, our future plans and of course show our service to Scottish Government’s Director of Early Learning and Childcare, Joe Griffin, and Team Leader, ELC Workforce, Kathryn Chisholm.
Joe and Kathryn visited our Dundee based service to meet with our Operations Director Susan McGhee, Service Manager Lesley Tait and Lead Practitioner Lynda Young. During the visit Lynda led a tour of the facilities before everyone sat down with a cuppa and a cookie to talk about how the service is delivered, how quality standards are maintained and critically the impact the service has on the lives of young children, families, the local community and the workforce.
When asked to share their thoughts after the visit Joe and Kathryn said; “We were delighted to visit this unique setting and to learn about the service provided. We were particularly interested in how the flexible service on offer was facilitated by an innovative staffing model combining a core staff team with a bank of practitioners working flexible hours which suit them, and struck by Susan, Lesley and Lynda’s passion and commitment to providing quality care and learning to children which also meets the needs of the families in their community.”
Susan McGhee, Ops Director summed up the ethos of the FCSS team when she said, “It’s not always easy to provide such flexible, tailored solutions but the right thing is often not the easiest thing and we are absolutely convinced what we are offering is the right thing to do.” She added; “There is so much more scope for flexibility in existing ELC provision, if every provider just offered a percentage of their places on a flexible basis it would make a massive difference. It would help communities, help local authorities achieve their expansion plan targets and really boost the realisation of the Scottish Government’s admirable aim to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up, and to give all of our children the best possible start in life.”
The benefits generated by flexible provision include:
* Children experience high quality, holistically delivered early learning and childcare. No child misses out as families who struggle to access settings offering traditional delivery models are able to access early learning and childcare that truly meets their needs.
* Opportunity for parents to work or study secure in knowledge that suitable, high quality care is available for their child/children at hours to suit their work/study pattern.
* Improved financial wellbeing and less reliance on benefits.
* Supports increased employment levels.
* Helps improve local economy as parents contribute through taxes and have earnings available to spend locally.
* Flexible booking patterns mean families can spend more quality time together when not working.
* Families experience improved living standards and feelings of wellbeing, children have more opportunities and attainment gaps are narrowed.
* Members of the ELC workforce who for personal reasons/family commitments cannot commit to full time or permanent working hours can work flexible shifts allowing them to remain active in the workforce, keeping their practice and professional development up to date and making a full time/permanent return to work easier when the time is right.