Parents could soon have the option of topping up childcare hours at some Moray Council nurseries.
The move is expected to generate tens of thousands of pounds for the local authority.
But it will not be enough to plug the £3.3million gap in its early learning and childcare budget.
A trial held at Linkwood nursery in Elgin offering extra hours to families is expected to raise around £1,500 over a two-and-a-half month period.
There are plans to roll out the offer to parents at five other nurseries.
Extra hours will boost coffers
Three and four-year-olds as well as eligible two-year-olds are entitled to 1140 free hours of childcare a year.
Proposals going to education, children’s and leisure services committee on Wednesday ask that extra hours continue to be offered at Linkwood, and extended to families at Seafield in Elgin, Lady Cathcart in Buckie, Lhanbryde, Cullen and Pilmuir in Forres.
An hourly fee of £4.75 rising to £5 between 5-6pm is suggested.
The trial at Linkwood began on April 18 this year and brought in £256.50 that month, with £570 expected for May and a further £684 in June.
Eight of the council’s 24 nurseries offer year round care. The others operate during term time.
£3.3m shortfall in early learning budget
A study showed parents were not using the nurseries at Millbank in Buckie or the one in Aberlour during school holidays.
If approved by councillors next week, officers will begin work to revert them to term time opening.
In her report early years service manager Hazel Sly said: “The option to offer top up hours at local authority year round services aims to provide a more flexible option of wrap around childcare for parents and carers of pre-school children, whilst also generating income for the council.
“Although the initial projected income from Linkwood nursery is not a substantial amount, when factored in an additional six settings providing this offer a steadier stream of income generation is anticipated.”
If approved the additional hours offer is not expected to incur any extra cost to the council, as the six nurseries are already staffed from 8am to 6pm.
Hours could be cut at Millbank and Aberlour nurseries
The £3.3m shortfall in the early years and childcare budget has been caused by higher then anticipated demand for free nursery places.
This along with increasing costs associated with children needing additional support and higher hourly payments for external childcare providers, accounts for around £1.9 million.
Combined with a £1.4m drop in the Scottish Government grant for Moray following changes to the funding formula, it adds up to £3.3m.