In terms of the number of nurseries available to children under three years of age, the Czech Republic ranks second worst in the European Union according to new data from a Eurostat report on member states’ childcare infrastructure.
As early as 2002, the EU set the so-called “Barcelona targets” an initiative meant to ensure that nurseries and other facilities be made available to 90% of European children over three years and a third of children under three.
Research has shown that a number of member states have a ways to go before reaching that target. In ten member states, less than 25% of children in the smallest age group participate in childcare. These include Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia with a rate of less than 10%.
In its availability of facilities for children up to three years of age, the Czech Republic is the second worst among the 28 member states. In the provision of places for children from three years to school it is tenth from last.
Insufficient childcare infrastructure has had a devastating effect on women in the workforce with the negative impact of parenthood on the employment of women recognized as a significant challenge in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Germany, Finland, and the UK.
A Eurostat 2016 survey among parents found that lack of availability was repeatedly mentioned as a major reason for not using childcare in the Czech Republic where the Ministry of Labor has recorded a thousand children’s groups with a capacity of 14,000 places shared by 16,000 children drawing EU subsidies.
The Czech Republic is one of the countries with low spending on pre-school care. It sends about half a percent of GDP to it. The EU average is 0.7 percent.
This week an amendment to the Crèche Act was introduced the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová (CSSD) who wants to rename groups as “crèches” that are funded by the state. They would be for children under three years of age whose parents work or study.
If approved by the government the crèches could start operating from 2021.