PARENTS at the Monkey Puzzle Central nursery in Glasgow are experiencing ‘extreme frustration’ at the moment because they cannot get access to the free government-funded places they should be entitled to.

Because the nursery does not currently have partnership status with Glasgow City Council the money is not filtering through from the local authority to the nursery.

Owner Della Martin said: “There is a huge misunderstanding that all three and four-year-olds get free child care and that is not true at all.

“There is a very big gap between the rhetoric of the Scottish Government about this policy and what is actually being delivered and so we get parents who believe they have a right to free child care who cannot get it.

“If the government had a voucher scheme for parents and they could use whatever provider they wanted that would make life for the parents, the nurseries and the government a lot simpler.

“The Scottish Government needs partnership nurseries to deliver the extra hours, but so many are not being funded for it.”

READ MORE: Nurseries 'just as confused as parents' over the roll-out

The experience of families at Monkey Puzzle Central is just one example of a host of difficulties facing parents whose children go to private nurseries in accessing their promised free places.

The situation has become more acute as councils prepare to deliver an ambitious new target of nearly doubling the amount of free early learning and childcare available for every three and four-year-old to 1140 hours by August 2020.

A new survey on the roll-out from parent body Connect has found significant differences in the experiences of families across Scotland.

The survey, which involved more than 230 parents from 28 different councils, found many local authorities used “contradictory criteria” leaving parents “very confused, anxious, unclear and sometimes angry” about how they could access the new entitlement.

The poll found some parents with the best access to the 1140 hours were finding it could save them more than £2500 a year.

However, others have experienced frustration in accessing the entitlement, principally because funding was not being passed on to private nurseries.

In some cases, families could have accessed the hours, but only if they moved their children from one nursery to another during the week.

Eileen Prior, executive director of Connect, said the national picture was “confused and confusing” and called for “clear and transparent information”.

She said: “From our survey we know parents who have received the 1140 hours are pleased with them, but some are telling us that what they are offered has changed from one year to the next, causing upset and confusion.

“We are hearing about a shortage of places for younger children and for those seeking deferrals and many parents say they are confused both about the trials and the final roll-out of the 1140 hours.

“They also say they are given information about their child’s place very late on, making it difficult to plan things like a change in work patterns.”

READ MORE: Angry parents facing 50% increase in nursery fees

Ms Prior said the trials had caused confusion because some councils had provided different hours in different settings with criteria for selecting children “varying greatly”.

She added: “For us, what comes out of this survey is that Scottish Government and councils need to give parents clear information about their child’s early learning and childcare places in good time for August 2019 and August 2020. Consistency, fairness and transparency are essential as the transition to nursery can be a time of family anxiety.”

The Scottish Government said it was on track with its plan and promised a major information campaign to ensure parents were aware of the new entitlement.

A spokeswoman said: “We welcome the report’s findings that families are already benefitting from increased early learning and childcare.

“We are committed to ensuring parents are aware of their entitlement and will be rolling out an information campaign with local authorities, private nurseries and childminders, including new website pages, posters, leaflets and newsletters.

“The expansion to 1140 hours will offer greater flexibility and choice for parents and will save families an average of £4,500 per child per year.”