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Community / Innovative government funded childcare project continues in Scalloway

A SHETLAND childcare provider has secured further government funding to continue with an ambitious pilot project aimed at tackling poverty and inequality.

Hame Fae Hame has been part of the Scottish Government’s access to subsidised childcare project since 2020.

Hame Fae Hame wins major government funding

New funding into expanding free school age childcare, announced by first minister Humza Yousaf earlier this week, should now help the project to run until 2026 pending annual reviews.

Currently ten families from across the isles benefit from the funded access to childcare, but there are likely many more families on low incomes who could be entitled to benefit from this support.

Hame Fae Hame provides funded and unfunded childcare places in Scalloway.

The business currently employs 20 people and offers a flexible approach to childcare between the hours of 7.30am to 6pm, where parents pay by the hour and are not required to commit to a set number of hours each week.

Director Kaye Sandison said she was well aware of the risk of being stigmatised in a small community such as Shetland and as such the details of families benefitting from the project were treated with the strictest confidentiality.

The project has been working quietly in the background over recent years putting out the feelers to health visitors, schools, social work and other partners to help identify families who could benefit from funded childcare places.

“There are parents in Shetland that should be entitled to this support, but we don’t know where they are, so publicising this scheme should alert some of them that they could be entitled to a funded place,” Sandison said.

“Childcare is a key element in tackling inequality. We have a couple of families here who could not have gone back to work without it.”

The access to the after school childcare project is target to families who fall into at least one of the following criteria groups:
•        lone parent families,
•        minority ethnic families,
•        families with a disabled adult or child,
•        families with a younger mother (under 25),
•        families with a child under one,
•        and larger families.

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Hame Fae Hame is one of nine such pilot projects across Scotland. Funding worth £63,000 for 2023/24 has now been confirmed.

The Scottish Government said the scheme has allowed for a reduction in the inequalities of access to a vital school age childcare service in a rural setting, supporting parents to increase or take up work, training, studying or respite.

More generally all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds in Scotland are entitled to 1,140 hours a year of free, funded early learning and childcare.

Yousaf said plans remain to expand early learning and childcare to “one-year-olds and more two-year-olds.”

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