From the end of this month, families in Largs and Millport can enrol their children for early learning and childcare places ahead of the roll-out of extra funded hours this summer

From August throughout North Ayrshire, all three and four year olds in – and around a quarter of two year olds – will be entitled to 1,140 hours of funded childcare per year.

This will almost double the number of funded hours they currently receive.

The increase in hours, backed by a £2 billion investment by the Scottish Government, has seen more than 270 nurseries built, extended or refurbished since March 2018 and an additional 4,300 full-time equivalent staff are already in post.

Due to the phasing in of the increased entitlement, almost 50,000 children are already receiving more than the current 600 hours they are entitled to, allowing parents and carers to explore work, education and training opportunities.

Parents or carers can apply for the option that suits their needs, including a local authority, private or third sector nursery, playgroup or childminder.

Local MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “If you have one or more children who will be two, three or four, now is the time to see what they could receive from this August.

“Tens of thousands of children are already benefitting from high-quality early learning and childcare. I’ve heard first-hand how it’s helped to boost their confidence and communication skills and given them access to more opportunities such as outdoor learning.

“It will make an enormous difference to families in terms of enabling mums and dads who currently look after children and are not in employment, return to work.”

“I encourage all parents with eligible children to get in touch with the nursery of their choice to identify the funded option that is best for their child.

“There is no cost to families who take up this offer that can save each family as much as £4,500.”

Asked about the £2 billion investment, Kenneth said: "The point is to make it truly transformational. Allowing thousands more to rejoin the workforce, create thousands of childcare jobs in the process and - most importantly - giving children the best possible start in life."

Children should be registered for an early learning and childcare place from the January following their second birthday.

Contact the nursery of your choice, usually the one nearest your home.

If you are unsure where that is, please call the Childcare and Recreation Information Service (CARIS) on 0345 351 3000.