A MAJOR childcare provider has been forced to pull the plug on its services leaving more than 100 children stranded and 40 staff out of work.

Parents and staff have been left devastated after Enterprise Childcare announced it will cease operating in Inverclyde after almost 30 years.

The board of trustees for the charity cite ongoing financial problems for the 'difficult decision' to close at the end of the month.

All services will be lost, including the Pre-3 base at Greenock Sports Centre, two-out-of school Kidz Clubs, at Aileymill Nursery and Lyle Kirk, plus an autism service and play project.

Fears had been raised earlier this month about the future of the pre-3 centre after parents - many of them students at the West College Scotland just round the corner from the nursery - received letters saying it could close down at the end of June if financial help was not found.

But parents and staff have now been hit with the bombshell that all the charity's services will end on March 29.

Samantha Lang, 25, a student whose two sons were cared for in the pre-3 centre, said: "Both teachers and mums were crying.

"When I dropped off my wee one Odin off, I could feel the tension.

"It's come as a shock, the staff only heard about it on Tuesday night.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with Odin to be able to finish my course.

"Everyone is in the same position.

"I'm going to be struggling to get a babysitter to allow me to finish my course."

Enterprise Childcare has 23 permanent members of staff and 17 sessional staff.

It provides care for 30 children in the nursery and 51 in the Kidz Clubs.

They also provide holiday schemes and support clubs for 23 children and young people with autism and have worked with 25 parents and children in their Playing Together project.

One member of staff, who did not want to be named, told the Telegraph: "We're gutted it's come to this.

"A lot of mums are really upset too.

"This is a hard time for staff and parents."

A statement from the board said: "Despite our best efforts, we have had to make the very sad and difficult decision that after serving the Inverclyde community for over 28 years, the charity will cease operating all our services on the 29th of March 2019.

"We know this will have a huge impact on you and your children.

"Inverclyde Council have been made aware of this decision, and can offer advice on sourcing alternative childcare."

Mike Condron, chair of Enterprise Childcare, said: "All employees will be looking for new jobs. The charity is assisting in any way they can. The council and PACE team is offering support to employees in relation to finding new employment."

One mum claims believes West College Scotland is at fault over the closure.

Lisa Rigby-Gillen, 31, whose son Grayson attends the nursery, said: "We have been told it is because the college has withdrawn its funding.

"We have been left with no childcare with three months left to go in our courses.

"The staff are very upset, they've got two weeks to find new jobs.

"It will be confusing for the kids too, they will be yanked out of that nursery then put in another for three months before the holidays."

But bosses from the college say their childcare funding policy is not to blame for the nursery shutting down.

A spokesman said: "West College Scotland was surprised and disappointed to be informed by email on Thursday of the closure of Enterprise Childcare from 29 March 2019.

"This is despite an ongoing dialogue between the two organisations.

"The college had been in discussions with Enterprise Childcare about its long-term future and was optimistic that the nursery would remain open until at least June 2019.

"This would have provided our students with much-needed continuity of childcare provision at an important time in their studies.

"Our childcare funding policy remains unchanged.

"It allows students to choose a funded nursery place that suits their family circumstances.

"The college’s nursery team is in touch with those students impacted by the closure of Enterprise Childcare to establish how we can best support their childcare needs in the short-term.

"The team is also assessing what other suitable provision might be available in and around the local area."