Nurseries will benefit from a jobs boost as parents receive extra childcare following new Scottish Government policy.
Falkirk Council needs to create 60 new posts to cope with providing all three and four-year-olds with a minimum of 600 hours early learning and care provision.
While the announcement was greeted as “great for the local economy”, members of the local authority’s education committee heard implementing the new legislation had brought “immense challenges” to the service.
Along with the additional jobs, the council has to find space in nurseries to cope with the increased capacity.
Nursery sessions will be increased by 40 minutes from August.
The legislation also requires councils to offer 600 hours of childcare annually for all two year olds who are ‘looked after’.
Councillor Alan Nimmo, education spokesperson, said: “The expansion of our early years provision will provide additional support for parents at such an important stage in their child’s life.”
All three and four-years-old will be entitled to 600 hours of unpaid early learning and childcare from August.
‘Looked after’ two-year=olds – those under a kinship care order or with a parent appointed guardian – will also be entitled to the provision under phase one of the new policy.
Falkirk Council’s education committee heard on Tuesday that the new arrangements would see 60 jobs created in nurseries.
There will also have to be changes made to current buildings to accommodate the additional numbers.
Gary Greenhorn, joint acting education director, said: “The challenges for the service are immense, particularly the infrastructure we have to put in place. But we are trying to do as much as we can in the first year.”
However, he said implementing the recently announced second phase of the policy whereby the 600 hours provision would be extended to all two year olds from ‘workless households’, would be an even bigger headache.
He added: “The problem we have is that, at the moment, there is no money on the table for this. Discussions are taking place between CoSLA and the Scottish Government about the challenges facing councils and we hope to be able to report back a clearer position in June.”
The council is spending £3.5 million on revenue costs and £1.8 million on capital works to implement the changes over the next two years with the government providing first phase funding.
Mr Greenhorn added one of the biggest problems would be finding space as two year olds cannot be looked after in the same room as older children, but the council was to meet with childminders and playgroups to see if they could help.