Nurseries will be reintroduced in the Czech Republic and they will completely replace the current children’s groups as of September 2024, based on a bill the approved by the cabinet Monday, the Labour and Social Ministry has told CTK, adding that the nurseries will be subsidised by the state.
If pushed through, the law should take effect from mid-2021. It will enable parents to place their children in nurseries until the latter’s age of three, or, more accurately, until the late August school-year end following their third birthday.
The requirement for nurseries will be stricter than those for the current children’s groups. Nurseries will need to have a cloakroom, special sleeping areas, and other attributes which children’s groups are currently not required to meet.
Children’s groups will have to transform themselves into nurseries by September 2024 or close. There are over 5,000 such groups for 15,000 children across the country.
In the EU, the Czech Republic is one of the countries with the lowest accessibility of child-care facilities for small children.
Several years ago, children’s groups were launched to compensate for the lack of kindergartens. The groups have been financed mainly from EU money, funding which is due to end in mid-2022, however.
The new bill is to introduce a system of financing based on which the nurseries will be subsidized by the state depending on the number of children in them. The height of the subsidy per child and the maximum fees paid by the parents will be reassessed by the cabinet every year, the ministry said.
The state will subsidize the nursery attendance of the children whose parents work or study.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jana Malacova (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the cabinet tasked her with negotiating the coverage of Czech nurseries’ operation from the EU funds. At present, the children’s groups receive 9,800 CZK per child from EU funds.
The ministry said the bill also aims to improve the quality of nurseries. It requires nursery staff to update their education and creates certain baseline quality standards.
“Furthermore, a new professional qualification of a nursery attendant will be created, with an emphasis placed on the medical knowledge,” the ministry wrote.
According to its analysis, Czech kindergartens, children’s groups, and mini-nurseries are currently short of about 20,000 places for children under three, which means that the care is inaccessible to the parents of three in every ten children who would need it.
Children are eligible for a place in a kindergarten as of the age of three.
At present, there are almost 1,100 children’s groups and 98 mini-nurseries with a capacity of about 15,000 children.