Stirling Council is expanding its early learning and childcare services across local nurseries, thanks to nearly £20million in extra funding from the Scottish Government (SG).

The expansion is part of a SG policy to provide three, four, and eligible two-year-olds, with an increase in free childcare from 600 hours to 1140 hours a year by 2020.

Red Kite Community Nursery in Doune is one of the private partner nurseries expanding its services in Stirling.

Tracey Stewart, Red Kite’s manager, said: “The increase in funding means we can open full days instead of just mornings and this has been great for our families.

“We are a small community-based nursery, providing childcare to local families for over 20 years. The extended opening times have been well received by our parents and we have seen an increase in the number of children using us.”

Several local authority nurseries along with partner providers in the private sector are aiming to offer parents almost double the number of free childcare hours currently available.

The increase in free childcare is a SG policy which aims to ensure all children get the best possible start in life and to support working families.

The expansion of childcare services is being rolled out in three phases, with phase one starting in August 2018, phase two in August 2019, and phase three in August 2020.

Councillor Margaret Brisley, vice convener of the Children and Young People Committee said: “This is an exciting time of transitional change in Stirling as phase one of the early learning and childcare expansion gets underway.

“Through working with partners in the private sector, we are providing a flexible model of provision which is tailored to the different needs of children, families and communities.”