Families are being urged to enrol their youngsters for funded early learning and childcare ahead of a major expansion this summer.

From August, all three and four-year-olds, as well as some two-year-olds, will benefit from 1,140 hours of childcare a year.

Parents or carers can now apply for the option that suits their needs from the choices available locally, whether it is at a council-run or private nursery or even a childminder.

The extra entitlement is already being phased in at some nurseries, with almost 50,000 children across Scotland benefitting from more than the current 600 hours they are entitled to, allowing parents and carers to explore work, education and training opportunities.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “If you’ve got a child 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 and I’ve heard first-hand how it has helped to boost their confidence and communication skills and given them access to more opportunities such as outdoor learning.

“I’ve also heard how it has made an enormous difference to families in terms of enabling mums and dads to get back into studying, work or training.

“I’d encourage all parents with eligible children to get in touch with their local authority to identify the funded option that is best for their child from the great choices available and find out when to apply.”

A public information campaign was launched on Monday and will run for eight weeks, across radio, outdoor advertising and social media, to let parents know about the increased nursery provision.

Ms Todd added: “There is no cost to families who take up this offer, so the 1,140 hours can save each family as much as £4,500, and we hope that this campaign will let as many people as possible know what they are entitled to.”

Families can visit the Parent Club website at https://www.parentclub.scot to find out how to enrol their youngsters for funded early learning and childcare places in the local area.