Out-of-school Care

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 7 February 2002.

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Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour 2:30, 7 February 2002

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to improve the provision of out-of-school care. (S1O-4643)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

We are seeking to improve the provision of that important service. We have made £8 million available over three years to local authorities to help to stabilise and sustain out-of-school clubs, especially in disadvantaged areas. We are convening a cross-sectoral working group to tackle a range of issues that affect the delivery of out-of-school care. I have met representatives of the new opportunities fund in Scotland to agree ways of increasing the take-up of funding under the fund's child care initiative.

Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour

An increasing number of parents now take up—or want to take up—employment opportunities provided by breakfast clubs and after-school clubs, such as those in the excellent Coatbridge community education centre, which is run by North Lanarkshire Council and is one of three such clubs in my constituency. Does the minister agree that such clubs are extremely important in that respect? What are the possibilities of using new opportunities funding to help to expand out-of-school provision, particularly breakfast clubs?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I recognise the work that is done by the clubs in Elaine Smith's constituency. I know that she takes an interest in such initiatives, both locally and through her involvement in the cross-party group on children and young people. We have had discussions with the new opportunities fund about how we can ensure the take-up of funding and whether breakfast clubs and other initiatives fall within the criteria to receive funding. The new opportunities fund can give some priming money, but organisations must be able to sustain themselves in the longer term. We have discussed those initiatives and we want to pursue them.