PLANS are progressing to increase childcare provision in Fife for eligible youngsters by August 2020, councillors heard this week.

Members of the City of Dunfermline area committee were given an outline of how the increase of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) – which will go from 600 to 1,140 hours – will be delivered in the area at their meeting on Tuesday.

Across Fife, it is proposed that parents will be able to take advantage of one of three options. These will be:

Fife Council term-time provision with six sessions of six hours per day across the academic year.

Fife Council full-year provision with sessions of four hours and 40 minutes per day available for 49 weeks of the year.

Partner provision delivered by either private nurseries, playgroups or childminders offering funded ELC.

To cater for the additional care on offer, the proposals include the creation of a new nursery within the site of the Halbeath Community Centre and a new nursery built in South Dunfermline – this is set for the former Pitcorthie Primary School site, as previously reported by the Press. 

Touch Primary School would be in line for an extension with minor refurbishment required to Carnegie and Duloch leisure centres. An outdoor nursery could also potentially be developed in Duloch. Early years lead officers have also been recruited at Lynburn Primary School nursery and Beanstalk Family nurture centre.

Committee convener Councillor Helen Law was pleased to hear that work was progressing and that the council was on track to provide the increase in childcare provision to 1,140 hours for eligible children.

“We have mounting evidence that shows investment in Early Years plays a very important part in closing the gap and stopping the cycle of deprivation,” she said.

“An increase in the free hours available will give parents flexibility and access to high-quality care for their children, in the City of Dunfermline area, in a way that best suits their family.

“Along with this, the early intervention which we can provide can have a huge impact on the future and outcomes, benefitting all families with young children across the area.”

As reported last month in the Press, more than 700 new nursery places are set to be created in West Fife to cater for the additional provision requirements.

In order to cater for all the new places, efforts are already ongoing to train and recruit enough early years staff to work in the centres with Fife College increasing the number of places on its HNC childhood practice courses and Fife Council increasing its early years officer apprenticeship programme.