Parents of eligible two-year-olds are being urged to make the most of the free early learning and childcare that is available to them in the Borders.
Places are provided in some school nursery classes as well as private day nurseries, playgroups or child-minders through Scottish Borders Council’s own services or in conjunction with providers in the private or third sector.
Those who can apply for the free childcare are listed, right.
Once a child becomes entitled to the hours they will remain so even if their parent or carer becomes employed or the parent or carer’s situation changes.
Councillor Sandy Aitchison, SBC’s executive member for education, said: “Since the Scottish Government introduced these free childcare hours in 2014, eligible parents, carers and children throughout the region have seen a number of benefits from their child’s attendance at their local early learning and childcare setting.
“Not only are the children given the opportunity to develop their social, language and learning skills, but parents and carers are able to have some vital time to themselves for work, training or some other purpose.”
Jane-Marie Ormiston and Carrie Thomson both have two-year-olds who attend the nursery provision at Philiphaugh Community School in Selkirk.
Carrie said: “My son started nursery late last year and it has been the best decision I’ve made. He was only two, and very reliant on me. He is now much more independent and his speech has come on well. He is very confident going into nursery. The staff at Philiphaugh are very good with him and are both friendly and approachable if I ever have any concerns. The routine he has at nursery has helped him a lot.”
Jane-Marie added: “My daughter enjoys everything at nursery. She asks all morning when she can go and it is lots of fun. She is a lot more confident coming to nursery and isn’t as clingy.
“She now plays independently at home and tells me stories when playing with toys. She has developed a good imagination.”
Councillor Aitchison added: “The benefits these families are receiving from the excellent provision at Philiphaugh can be found in early years and childcare settings right across the Borders.
“I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for the free hours to contact the Early Years Team to find out more about what is provided in their local area.
“The team is also able to help if you are not sure whether you fit the criteria and I would urge anyone in that situation to get in touch to see what your options might be.”
Contact the team at SBC headquarters on 01835 824000 for more information. You can also contact your local school, nursery, playgroup or childminder or visit www.scotborders.gov.uk/earlylearningchildcare