Parents in Aberdeenshire have until Friday to apply for a nursery space for their child for this year.
Applications for early learning and childcare (ELC) for Aberdeenshire providers opened on January 20 and will close on Friday.
Under Scottish Government legislation, ELC funded hours will increase from 600 to 1,140 from August 2020 for all three and four-year-olds, as well as eligible two-year-olds.
There will be changes to nursery opening hours across the north-east with some facilities now open later until 6pm.
Aberdeenshire Council said that, as a result, 64 of the 87 nurseries in the local authority area will change their hours of operation of 9am to 3pm to 8am to 6pm.
There are three models of how care will be provided in local authority buildings.
For nurseries operating between 9am and 3pm term time, children can attend up to five sessions a week, in blocks of up to six hours, for 38 weeks a year.
Alternatively, for those open from 8am to 6pm during term time, children can attend up to six sessions a week, in blocks of up to five hours, for 38 weeks per year.
The third provision is for nurseries open from 8am to 6pm all year round. For those, kids can attend up to five sessions a week, in blocks of up to five hours, over 50 weeks per year.
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In facilities running under a 50-week model, the allocation of 1,140 hours will be taken across 46 weeks, and in addition to the two-week Christmas break, children will need to take four additional holiday weeks to ensure they do not exceed their 1,140 allocation.
Provisions for each nursery will be different dependent on the location. Those open during term time will follow the school holiday dates.
Children who will be three years old by August 31 can begin in August, and children reaching the age of three by December 31 will begin in January. Those who will turn three by the last day of February will start in April.
The hours can be split between childminders, playgroups, private nurseries and/or independent schools.
Cllr Gillian Owen, chairwoman of Aberdeenshire’s education and children’s services committee, said: “We’re very proud of our approach to the rollout of extended early learning and childcare hours so far.
“All our partner providers have been able to access the additional hours alongside a number of our school nursery settings since April 2019, and they have also been able to apply for capital grant funding.
“Engagement with staff, parents and elected members has meant we’ve been able to make effective, steady progress, and a huge amount of work has gone in to building and enhancement projects.
“I’d like to thank our early years team, as well as support staff across many areas – from catering to property – for all their hard work.”
To apply for a nursery place, visit here.
Only one application form should be completed per child.
Any applications which are handed in late may result in a delay in children being offered a place.