As many as one in five Fife families could be denied the nursery place they want for their child.
Anxious parents will learn before the end of this month what nursery session has been granted for their pre-school youngsters.
As Fife Council provides the additional hours of early learning and childcare required by the Scottish Government, they were told that only between 80% and 90% would be allocated their first or second choice provision.
The number of hours each child is entitled to will increase from 600 to 1,140 but there are fears this will mean many children being unable to return to their current nursery or attending a nursery other than that at their local primary school.
Education and children’s services convener Fay Sinclair said: “Allocations are being carried out at the moment and families will be offered places in the last week of March.
“We anticipate that around 80% to 90% of families will be provided with their first or second choice of nursery.
“That’s broadly in line with what we have managed previously under 600 hours where it was around 90%.”
Provision offered includes 9am to 3pm sessions five days a week for 38 weeks of the year, two and a half full days a week for 46 weeks and half day sessions for 49 weeks.
Mrs Sinclair said there was particular pressure in those nurseries providing only 9am to 3pm sessions, and where the hours per child were being doubled without physical changes to the buildings to accommodate them.
Fife’s Liberal Democrat education spokesman James Calder urged the council to “redouble its efforts” to return as many children as possible to the same nursery.
He said: “Many parents are understandably concerned with the changes in nursery provision that their children will not be able to return to the same nursery next year.
“While I am pleased that the council administration agrees that we need to work to ensure as many families are not disappointed, I am worried that up to 20% of children might not get to go back to their nursery next year.”
Mrs Sinclair said everything possible was being done to match families with their preferred option during what was a “difficult and different” year with new challenges.
She said: “We are embarking on a hugely ambitious programme to deliver double the amount of free, high quality early learning and childcare and we have approved a model through the education committee that will allow us to do that.
“Every single nursery school we have in Fife is offering a new model, therefore there are no children are returning to the same provision.
“In future years anybody looking to stay at the same setting with the same hours will not have to reapply.”
She also stressed early years staff were used to managing transitions and stated: “Changes between nurseries from one high quality setting to another high quality setting will be assisted by our staff.”