WEST FIFE parents have hit out at the prospect of having to uproot their children from their nursery because of new childcare provision due to begin in August.

Online forums have been set up across the area for worried parents and Dunfermline mum Samantha Young started a petition asking for amendments to the plans.

More than 300 have signed it in a week and she hopes her efforts will persuade the education services to ensure children going back to nursery for their second year are not uprooted when new childcare provision increases to 1,140 hours in August.

Samantha's daughter is one of the children affected. She said other councils had said preference would be given to returning children and believes not doing so is not getting it right for every child.

"I really wanted my daughter to go to nursery where she was going to school," she said. "We pulled her out of private nursery to go. There will be kids returning who had horrendous times trying to get settled in and they face going through it all again.

"My concern is the mental health of my child. McLean is going from 120 places to about 40. What chance does my daughter have? How do you explain to a four- or five-year-old why they can't go back to nursery?

"She goes in the same ballot with children who have never been there before. It beggars belief and the amount of stress and anxiety that this is causing for parents is massive.

"Blueprint 2020 is a comprehensive document which places Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) at the forefront of this increase in provision.

"Removing children from a familiar nursery setting by reducing access to those places is not GIRFEC."

Another parent, Gavin Wilson, who is a member of the Donibristle Nursery Parent Forum, said parents were deeply concerned about the situation.

"I think it will be alright in a few years' time but it feels that Eva, my daughter, and all those at nursery now, are collateral damage," he said. "It is completely unacceptable to me as her parent.

"This is meant to make the lives of children better and the lives of their parents better. There should not be losers, there should only be winners.

"In the parent forums, the biggest challenge we have is having to reapply for our children to go back to the nursery they are at. These are three-year-old children for most of whom is the first time they have spent a period away from their parents or family members.

"Most find it difficult to settle and what we are saying is, in August, they could be going somewhere else. When you look at neighbouring councils, they are guaranteeing a place for any nursery child who wants to come back to the same nursery. It feels strange that they can do that but Fife can't.

"The 1,140 hours is a fantastic initiative. It gives one or both parents the opportunity to have a more functional work/life balance. The problem is, certainly in Fife, it appears that the maths doesn't seem to work out.

"The spirit of the initiative is all about giving children better continuity and support and this doesn't meet this."

Councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of the education and children’s services committee, told the Press last week that parents would hopefully find a solution that works for them.

She said she understood that parents who had a child returning for a second year at nursery were looking for continuity.

“However, it’s an entirely new model and they’re not returning to the same circumstances so, effectively, everyone is applying for the first time," she added. “Those places can’t be guaranteed, it’s a level playing field, but as many people as possible will be matched with their first choice.

“There’s confusion because it’s new. Once it beds in, people will understand it better and the early years team are there to support people through the application and different options.”