Demand for free nursery places for toddlers in Falkirk district set to rise
Demand for free nursery places for two-year-olds is expected to rise as more families in Falkirk face the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The economic downturn - which is forecast to hit hard when the furlough scheme ends - will mean many more families on benefits, leading to more than expected being eligible for free nursery care.
Members of Falkirk Council's education, children and young people committee heard that to cope with the rise in demand, extra places will be provided in Bo'ness and Langlees.
Gary Greenhorn said: "A lot of families are experiencing financial and economic insecurity and that's bringing with it a rise in demand for places, at least in the short-term."
He said the focus was moving to early intervention - and in particular helping families cope with very difficult circumstances, with a long-term aim of fewer children having to be taken into care.
The meeting agreed to the recruitment of three full-time family support worker posts, to work specifically with nurseries.
And it agreed families with children who are vulnerable or risk should also have access to some of the places for babies - all of which are currently used by families who pay for childcare.
This will be introduced gradually, so no families who have places will have to give them up.
Councillor Adanna McCue, the council's education spokesperson said: "This firmly puts our youngest children right at the heart of our plans.
"The plans in this report have highlighted the fact that we are very serious about supporting our most vulnerable children and the families who are struggling."
The changes were part of a report on the ongoing expansion of Falkirk Council's early years service, which is due to be complete for when schools and nurseries return in August.
Major work is ongoing at several nurseries including Denny and Head of Muir primary schools; Kinglass ELC Centre, Callendar Park ELCC and Woodburn ELCC.
Other nurseries have minor work that will see them complete but all three and four-year-old children in Falkirk will be offered 1140 hours nursery education for the start of the new term in August.