FURIOUS families are facing forking out THOUSANDS of pounds to keep their kids at a Greenock nursery after council bosses axed funding for places at the popular kindergarten which has received multiple 'good' ratings from inspectors.

Parents are demanding answers after being told by the local authority that it will end its Early Learning and Childcare Funded Provider Agreement with Happitots in August.

Municipal Buildings chiefs say that the controversial decision had to be taken because the nursery had failed to meet certain national standards.

But the most recent Care Inspectorate report on the childcare centre gave it four 'good' ratings for the quality of its setting, leadership and staff team, as well as its care, play and learning.

The move by Inverclyde Council has sparked outrage from affected parents, who say they face a stark choice between moving their child to another nursery, where their place will be funded, or footing the costly bill to stay at Happitots.

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Mum Kathryn Farquharson described the decision as ‘cruel’ and said it would have a negative impact on her youngest son, Adam.

Kathryn told the Telegraph: “Adam took a while to settle in here at first and now we’ll have to go through that all again and then again, a year after that when he goes to school.

“Their decision is really cruel on the kids, it’s mostly the kids that are being affected by this and they’ve still not really given us a proper answer about why this is being done.

“They talk about getting it right for every child, but they’re not getting it right for these children at all.

“It’s really upsetting and really worrying."

Many of the parents who spoke to the Tele praised the standard of care their children have received at the nursery.

Mum Cristina Minda told how staff had gone the extra mile for her daughter when she started at the nursery and said she was anxious about sending her children elsewhere.

Cristina said: “When my daughter came here, she wasn’t speaking because she’s a pandemic baby so she started later.

“We are Romanian and the girls at Happitots were learning Romanian words to talk to my wee daughter and make her feel more comfortable.

“I don’t see why my children shouldn’t continue to go here.

“The decision just doesn’t make sense to me."

Thomas Craddock, whose daughter attends Happitots, said he felt as though he had been ‘left in the dark’.

He added: “Inverclyde has a big depopulation issue and moves like this do not encourage young families to move here and stay here.

“If I moved house after this, I’d certainly think again about staying here.

“Things like this just do not give you confidence for the future.

“What was in place was working for us, there was no need to change it.”

An Inverclyde Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the decision not to remain in partnership with this particular early years setting has had to be taken.

“This is because if a partnership provider fails to meet any of the national standards, which include quality or financial, then the council cannot remain in partnership with them.

“The council has met with the leadership team at Thrive on several occasions to try to resolve this issue but have been unable to do so.

“Our early years team is working with the affected parents and families to identify alternative options for them and are offering as much support as we can. We have contacted each family directly and given them information on alternative funded providers.

“Any parent who wants to discuss this further can email EYHQ@inverclyde.gov.uk marked Happitots Greenock and your name/child’s name and a contact number and a member of our early years team will be in touch.”

A spokesperson for Happitots Greenock said: “We are incredibly disappointed by the Local Authority’s decision to withdraw funding from August 2024.

“We believe this is unfair and unreasonable and will have a significant impact on the children whose parents may have no choice but to find alternative childcare. In some cases, these children have been at our nursery for a significant time and be forced to move to a new setting shortly before they start school.

“Following an inspection in October 2023, Happitots Greenock is rated as Good by the Care Inspectorate – one of the local authority’s criteria for partnership funding.

“The other measure is financial viability and, whilst we have not been immune to challenges nurseries across the country have faced following the pandemic and during the cost-of-living crisis, being part of a much larger group means we are financially stable.

"We have asked the local authority to consider this as part of their calculations, but they appear not to have done so.

“We would like to publicly thank parents for their support on this matter and are committed to continuing discussions which we hope will allow them to continue to access funding at Happitots Greenock.”