CHILDMINDERS are set to be an important part of Wee County plans to deliver additional hours of funded early learning and childcare.

As reported elsewhere in today's Advertiser, the number of free hours for three and four year olds, as well as some eligible two year olds, is increasing to 1,140 hours from August.

Parents and guardians will have flexibility on how the hours are taken, for instance by spreading it all year around or only during the school term, and this includes the option to use professional childminders who are in partnership with Clackmannanshire Council.

Rated as one of the highest quality forms of early learning and childcare by the Care Inspectorate, childminding is a popular option as it involves a low adult-to-child ratio, which enables professionals to tailor care best suited to the child and their family.

Funded hours can be blended with other forms of care, like a nursery, and young people cared for by a childminder can benefit by learning and playing with others from different age groups.

Clacks mum Angela Cowbrough, whose son Nairn is currently looked after by childminder Louise Nimmo, said: "Both my children have been with Louise from six months old.

"They have thrived in the childminding environment and they love Louise.

"Louise has provided excellent care for my boys and she treats them like family and not just mindees.

"The blended childcare is great and it allows Nairn to continue being with Louise and the other children in her care, whilst experiencing the new environment at Craigbank nursery class."

Childminding can be particularly helpful for children with additional support needs and in general provides strong continuity of care.

Louise is one of 13 current partner childminders with the local authority, having spent 14 years as a professional.

She said: "I love the fact I can provide a safe and warm environment for children in my care.

"They are not my mindees, they are an extended part of my family and I love them all very much.

"I have a great relationship with each of the families.

"Being a funded provider enables me to enhance my business and offer my existing families and new families this wonderful opportunity.

"Some children can't settle into a nursery environment and a childminder can offer a more personal one to one care."

Childminders looking to partner up with Clacks Council should enquire via, information on current partners is available on the council website.

For more information and guidance on how to access the funded entitlement with a childminder, visit or call Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) on 01786 449 063.