Plans to boost early learning and childcare (ELC) hours have made steady progress but risks around buildings and staffing remain, say public sector watchdogs.
The Scottish Government and councils are working well together to increase ELC hours from 600 to 1,140 a year from August 2020. And the pace of the expansion is broadly in line with plans.
But around half of the building work required is due to be completed over the summer, and about half of the additional ELC staff still need to be recruited. Private and third sector providers - which are expected to deliver over a quarter of the hours - also continue to report significant workforce challenges that threaten their sustainability.
The Scottish Government's evaluation plans for the expansion are well advanced but challenges remain. For example, it is not clear how the longer-term economic benefits of the policy, or its impact on family wellbeing, will be measured.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said:
"The Scottish Government and councils have worked well together to increase early learning and childcare hours, and we've also seen improvements in how the project will be evaluated. But the timeline remains tight and there are big risks around infrastructure and workforce."
Graham Sharp, Chair of the Accounts Commission said:
"Given the amount of work due to be completed over summer 2020, it's important that councils continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to manage the risks of any delays, including how best to keep parents informed."