I have to admit, it's a steep learning curve for me too, so here's what I've found on the support that parents can get for childcare...
Funded early learning and childcare is free to parents, but funded by the Scottish Government. You can get up to 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year (around 16 hours a week in term time) if your child is 3 or 4 years old. You may be able to get more funded hours in your area, or access them earlier as the Scottish Government is adding more funded hours. At the moment Dumfries and Galloway Council have denied Wise Owls Nursery funded places. If you - like us - feel that this takes away parental choice and flexibility, feel free to email them on EarlyYearsSupport@dumgal.gov.uk to tell them why you would like funded places to be made available at Wise Owls Nursery.
This is a useful table for seeing when you can apply for funded childcare, with start and end dates for dates of births.
Children aged between 2 and 3 years old
You can also get funded early learning and childcare if your child has turned 2 and you get one of these benefits:
Income Support (IS)
Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
State Pension Credit
Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit and your income is less than £16,105
both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income is under £6,420
support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Universal Credit and your household take-home pay, is £610 a month or less
There's more here on the Scottish Government's website.
By 2020 the govenment will increase the hours of free ELC from 600 to 1,140 hours per year, in a bid to "further reduce barriers preventing parents from working."
We were under the understanding that once we had our Care Inspectorate Registration, we would be considered for funded places, however we have now been informed that this won't happen until at leanst 2020 (see above email if you would like to write to the council about this.) Once we get funded places, the provider needs 2 weeks notice if your child has already started with them and the form must be sent to Dumgal Council at least 10 days before the transfer takes place. You can register with two providers as long as the total number of hours doesn't exceed your child's entitlement.
Here's the information you might need if you want to know more about how our LA are going to expand childcare in the region.
Dumfries and Galloway Council Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Plan 2017 -2020
You can choose the days of the week and the number of hours depending on availability at your chosen provider. Sessions are no shorter than 2.5 hours and no longer than 8 hours each day.
Here are some useful Government Links:
What financial help you may get if you have children.
Help with Childcare Costs
Universal Credit and Childcare
Tax free Childcare - 10 facts parents should know.