Applying for Childcare

Apply for childcare in Stirling

Application deadline 28 February 2024


Applications for nursery places should be submitted by 28 February 2024.

How to apply for childcare

Please contact your first choice nursery who will email you an application form.

Once you have completed the form, please return the form to your first choice nursery ensuring that you have noted the hours and days you would prefer your child/children to attend.

It is important that you put a 2nd and 3rd choice of the nursery as we cannot always guarantee your first choice. If your first choice nursery cannot accommodate your request, they will forward your request to your second choice.

Admissions and charging information

Fees are charged in blocks of 5 hour sessions.

Refer to the Nursery admissions and charging policy for information about early learning and childcare provision. 

From the start of the term in August 2024 nursery fees for unfunded hours will increase to the following:

Age range

Full day (10 hour session)

Half day (5 hour session)

Hourly rate (equal to)

3-5 years




2-3 years




0-2 years




Visit the Parent Club website for information on help with childcare costs.

What is early learning and childcare

Early learning and childcare (ELC) is a term used to cover the full range of education and childcare available in Scotland. Babies, toddlers and young children learn all the time from their experiences, and their care and education are inseparable. ELC settings offer education and care of children up to school age. These include settings known as family centres, day nurseries, nursery schools and classes, childminders and playgroups.

ELC settings can be operated by local authorities, private businesses, voluntary sector organisations, playgroups and childminders. Private and voluntary settings and childminders must work in partnership with the local authority to offer funded hours of ELC. This frequently asked questions section includes information about how to apply for a nursery/childminder placement, funded and unfunded placements and the process involved. Stirling Council Admissions and Charging Policy details further information on the process of applying for a childcare place.

Children aged 3-5

When will my child’s funded childcare place start?

Children aged 3 years old become eligible for a Government funded (free childcare) place at the start of the term following their third birthday:

• Children who are 3 between 1 March and 31 August are eligible for a funded (free childcare) place from the start of school term in August.

• Children who are 3 between 1 September and 31 December are eligible for a funded (free childcare) place from the start of school term in January.

• Children who are 3 between 1 January and 28 February are eligible for a funded (free childcare) place from the start of school term in April (after the Easter holiday).

The above is for a maximum of 1140 hours per academic year (25 hours or 30 hours per week). Each nursery will have their own specific opening hours and sessions available. Please contact the nursery of your first choice for further information.

Some of our private, voluntary independent settings (PVI’s) operate slightly differently, e.g. over 51 weeks so around 22/23 hours per week. However, the majority of settings offer either 25/30 hours but this may vary. Individual providers will be able to advise how they offer the funding. Note: families can access funded hours either with a local authority nursery, a funded PVI nursery or a funded childminder. Not all childminders are funded with us so please check the link given to find out who can offer funded placements.

The Nursery Admissions and Charging Policy provides more information.

Under 3s provision

Where are the nurseries?

Under 3 year provision is not statutory however, certain 2 year olds may be eligible for a funded place. Non-funded places aged 0-3 are available across some local authority nurseries, PVI nurseries and childminders. Please contact the individual provider for their current hourly rate.

What do I need to process my application?

Please return completed form to your first choice of nursery/childminder. The childcare provision will require evidence therefore you will be asked to let the nursery or childminder see your child’s birth certificate and proof of address/utility bill (all original documents). Please note: we do not take copies of these.

Eligible 2s

The Scottish Government funds free childcare places for eligible 2-year-olds.

Read the eligibility criteria on our childcare for children aged 2 to 4 page

How to apply for a childcare place

Every March, we hold Admissions Panel meetings to allocate placements for the August intake. Parents are then notified of the outcome of their application in April. The Panels discuss all age groups 0-5 years.

Where do I find out more information about nursery and childminder places?

Information is available on our website or email with your query.

When can I apply for a place?

The application process is open all year. The majority of places are filled at the start of the academic year in August and September. If you wish to be considered for a place for the start of the new term in August then applications must be submitted by the last day in February.

Please note, applications submitted prior to the end of February each year will be allocated first. Late applications will be offered places based on the remaining availability after these allocations have been made.

What happens once I submit my child's application form?

Nursery staff use the priority scale outlined in the Nursery Admissions and Charging Policy. Private, Voluntary and Independent Providers (PVI) and Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) representatives meet in panels linked to learning communities to discuss applications.

If you are applying to another nursery, please let your current setting know. If you have applied to more than one nursery, any duplicate applications will be picked up and staff will contact you to confirm your first choice of nursery.

Why do I need to enter a second and third choice of nursery/childminder place?

While we can guarantee a funded early learning and childcare place, we cannot always guarantee your first choice of nursery/childminder. If this is the case, your application will be passed onto your second then third choice of provider. Each childcare provider is registered to take a maximum number of children at any one time depending on their size. Some providers may be busier than others.

What documents do I need for the nursery to process my application?

You will need to provide original copies of your child's birth certificate, proof of address and a council tax bill. If you are applying for an eligible 2’s place, you will also need a statement relating to your tax credits award.

What are the opening times for childcare providers and when can I drop off and collect my child?

Opening times vary for each provider. Most local authority nurseries are open 8am – 6pm weekdays throughout the year, while a small number are only open during term time with some of those nurseries open 9am – 3pm. Most PVI nurseries and childminders are open 8am – 6pm weekdays throughout the year with the exception of a few who are only open during term time 9am – 3pm.

Drop off and pick arrangements - is it ok for other people to collect my child and what is needed for this?

If it is not you coming to collect your child, then the nursery will request a list of people who you would wish to collect your child on your behalf and they must be over the age of 16 years. If for whatever reason someone else has to collect your child out with the list given, you must inform the nursery of this as soon as possible so that so that the person who is collecting your child is authorised to do so. Please discuss this with your chosen nursery.

If someone turns up to collect the child and nursery do not know this person, the nursery will contact the parent to confirm the identity of the person who has turned up.

Can I “bank” or carry forward hours that are not used?

Sessions are usually offered in 5 blocks of 5 hours between 8am-1pm, 1pm-6pm or 8am-6pm in a pattern which suits the family over 45.6 weeks of the year. Term time nurseries offer either 5 x 6 hour sessions, or 6 x 5 hour sessions depending on their operating model. Your choice of nursery will be able to tell you which model they offer.

Nurseries usually offer the one model, either 9-3 or 8-6.

For local authority nurseries, children must be dropped off not before 8am and collected no later than 6pm each evening. We ask parents to be in the building at least 15 minutes before the end of session. PVI nurseries and childminders can be flexible if family circumstances prove difficult working with these timings.

Can I change times/sessions mid-way through my child’s placement?

Yes, only if the nursery/childminder can accommodate the new sessions and times.

Can my child be given a place anytime of the year or is it only August?

Children who are 3 between 1 March and 31 August are eligible for a funded (free childcare) place from the start of school term in August.

Please refer to the eligibility dates in the section ‘Children aged 3-5’ for information about other start times.

Settling in

Is there a settling in period for my child to get used to new surroundings and new people?

Yes, arrangements will be in place for every child to come along to familiarise themselves with the nursery, staff and the other children. Parents/carers will be kept informed of progress at all times. Settling in is flexible to meet the needs of the child. Where possible August start children can settle in over the summer, however this is dependent on numbers of children attending. Each setting is registered with the Care Inspectorate and have an operating capacity outlining the maximum number of children who can attend per session. This is taken into consideration when offering settling in sessions as this cannot be exceeded at any time.

Some of our PVI/ childminders will have their own procedures for settling in. They will inform you of these prior to your child starting.

Depending on the nursery/childminder, settling in periods can vary and are responsive to each child’s needs. As the settling in sessions gradually increase, your child will spend time in the nursery experiencing routines such as snack and/or lunch, becoming familiar with the environment, indoors and outdoors or where they can have a nap etc.

Each child will have a Personal Care Plan. This document is crucial in giving the nursery team or childminder some insight into your child's care needs before they begin settling in e.g. their routine, preferences and medical requirements. Information regarding your child will be collected via this document throughout the duration of their time in nursery. You will be asked to update and sign this every 6 months.

Meals and snacks

Local authority nurseries use the services of Stirling Council’s Catering Team. Menus are given to parents at the start of each block. The menu is on a 3 week rotation and the start date for each menu is clearly marked at the top of each page. It is important that you inform the nursery of any food allergies your child has so that our caterers can provide appropriate snacks and meals for your child.

Nursery meals must be ordered by 9.30 am each day so they can be prepared and delivered to each setting. If you are going to be late dropping off your child, to guarantee a meal for your child, please contact the nursery and let them know what to order. There is no charge for a nursery meal when a child is attending for a funded session. However, children attending for an un-funded sessions will be charged the cost of a meal which is currently £2.30.

Alternatively, you can provide a packed lunch from home. Please note, settings are nut free zones. Please check that any food that you provide does not contain nuts as this may have an adverse effect on the health of some children.
Morning snack, lunchtime meal and afternoon snacks are available for children every day. We are health promoting and offer a range of fruit, vegetables, simple and nutritious snacks.

• Children who attend in the mornings only will receive a morning snack in addition to a lunch
• Children who attend in the afternoons only will receive a substantial snack
• Children who attend all day will receive a light snack in the morning and afternoon, plus a lunch

Milk and water will be on offer at all mealtimes. Children should bring their own water bottle daily which they can access at any time during the day.

Some of our PVI nurseries use an independent company to provide snacks and meals. Childminders provide these individually. Please refer to the section about Childminders for information about food provision in these settings.

There is national guidance regarding healthy foods, portion sizes and what foods to avoid. The guidance which is called ‘Setting the Table’ is in the process of being updated and we will add a link here when it is available.

Health and welbeing

What happens if a child becomes ill while in nursery or with a childminder?

If your child becomes unwell, nurseries and childminders will contact you, explain the situation and ask you to collect your child as soon as possible.

Nurseries: If your child is prescribed antibiotics for an illness, infection or high temperature, we recommend that they stay off for 24-48 hours dependant on the illness and medication. This allows your child to rest, let the medicine take effect and build up their immune system before returning. All prescribed medication must be have a dispensing label from the pharmacist, be in the original packaging and clearly state your child’s name and dosage instructions.

If the medication is to be taken while at a nursery/childminder, we will obtain information about your child’s needs for this and will ensure this information is kept up to date via the personal plan. When dealing with medication of any kind in the nursery/childminder home, strict guidelines will be followed, and we have a medication policy in place. Parental written permission must be obtained for the administration of each medication with details of the last dosage, amount, dates and times to be given.

There may be times when a child cannot attend a childcare setting due to having a communicable disease. We refer to Forth Valley Health Board Guidance on infection control in schools and childcare settings and take advice on the recommended period of time for children to be kept away from nursery from this.

Current guidelines regarding Covid-19 are followed to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our children, families and staff.

If your child vomits or has diarrhoea, they must remain at home for at least 48 hours after their last episode. This is to reduce the spread of infection between children and staff.
All our nurseries will have information regarding the above in their handbooks, please ask for a copy if you do not have one and feel free to enquire with nursery staff about the procedures to follow if your child becomes unwell during their time at nursery. Childminders will have similar systems in place, however it is always best you check with them first.

I’m worried that my child isn’t toilet trained, will this affect getting a place in a nursery?

No, please don’t worry about toilet training. We take the child’s lead and families approach where possible when supporting toilet training. The nursery team will work alongside the families to listen and note important aspects of the processes the family are using.

What do I need to bring for my child each day?

Many nurseries provide a handy checklist for parents and share this before settling in to nursery. Childminders are the same and will advise parents accordingly. This will also be in the nursery handbook. Nurseries keep a stock of spare clothes, jackets and footwear.

How often do children get out and about (walks/outings/garden play)?

All childcare providers aim to provide free flow access to play and learning. This allows the children to have different opportunities outside that they can’t have indoors. They will have the opportunity to explore different textured ground, nature, planting, games and physical play.

We will also take our indoor learning into the outdoor environment as well such as stories, blocks and painting. The children will have their designated outdoor space for outdoor learning with their age group. We aim to get out for walks now and again to explore the local community.

Children and staff are outside in all weathers. Where possible parents should provide appropriate outdoor clothing such as waterproof trousers and jackets or full suits. Note: nurseries may have some suits that they can provide if this is not possible.

Blended and Split placements (What does this mean?)

A blended place can happen at any time and between any two settings, either due to one setting not being able to offer the full amount of hours requested, or down to parental choice.


• Children are able to connect with new families and build new friendships.
• Familiarity with school community prior to attending Primary School if the nursery is attached to the school.
• Flexible for families who wish to access 2 or more providers, for example remain with a childminder who they have known since very young while also attending a nursery setting.

Things to consider:

• Timing for settling into 2 placements. Can your child cope with settling in to both at once?
• Relationships and secure attachments in more than one setting.
• Friendships, communication and socialisation when accessing more than one setting.
• Transitions across the child’s week and their understanding of this and the routines which come along with each.
• Play and learning progression and achievements. Work between two settings is done to fuse together for children and families where possible.
• Family learning/engagement opportunities and family involvement in more than one early learning and care childcare setting.

Can I use Tax free childcare/childcare vouchers?

Yes, every local authority nursery is set up to receive childcare vouchers. Please discuss with the nursery administrator. Further information is available on the UK Government website.

Please check with your chosen PVI nursery or childminder to enquire if they accept childcare vouchers.

Child Minders

Do you accept early learning and childcare funding?

Some childminders are registered to deliver the funded ELC hours, and some deliver private placements only. Please contact your chosen provider to discuss this.

Am I able to use two different models of funding e.g.? Term time (38 weeks) with nursery and 45.6 weeks with childminder?

Yes. We can tailor each application to meet individual needs.

Do you have a settling in session/transition period?

Yes, most childminders offer settling in visits free of charge and are happy to accommodate as many as your child requires. Please ask your childminder for their individual settling in policy.

Do you work over the holidays?

Some childminders choose to work term time only while others are happy to work across the whole year with 6 weeks holiday. Please discuss this with your chosen provider.

What sort of meals are provided?

Childminders delivering the funded hours will provide one meal a day, as well as snacks. Please discuss with your chosen provider to find out more information.

Can childminders provide care to children with additional needs?

Yes. Childminders have a unique opportunity to provide tailored care to children with additional needs due to the lower number of children in their care. Childminders also link in with other professionals such as health visitors, physiotherapists and speech and language therapy teams. Blended placements also benefit from childminders being able to join the nursery team in any child development related meetings.

Can I change my hours with childminders?

Yes, changing patterns is a straight forward process as long as your childminder has the requested availability.

Are childminders qualified?

Childminders delivering the funded ELC hours are required by the National Care Standard for Early Learning and Childcare to be qualified to a minimum of SCQF level 7 / SVQ 3. They are also required to update child protection training, first aid, food hygiene and complete 12 hours of professional development per year.

Funded providers in partnership with Stirling Council

Stirling Council is in partnership with a number of providers in the private, voluntary and independent sector, including childminders, to offer funded early learning and childcare places. If you want a place with a funded provider nursery or childminder setting, please contact them directly (Schools and Nurseries) to request an application form and ask about their admissions process.

For further information on childminders please contact:

Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA)
Argyll Court
Castle Business Park
Stirling FK9 4TY
Tel: 01786 445377
Email us