Carinthia is a child-friendly region I Good practice by Governor Peter Kaiser

Peter Kaiser
7 June 2021
Carinthia is a child-friendly region I Good practice by Governor Peter Kaiser

This contribution by Peter Kaiser, governor of Carinthia region, Austria, is part of our series “#ProgressiveLocalStories”, aiming at raising awareness on the many positive initiatives implemented by progressive cities and regions in Europe. Cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions and, with this series, we want to discover how progressive mayors, councillors and presidents of regions put in place policies to promote child-friendly cities and regions. 

Carinthia child grant – support from the Region of Carinthia for the gradual expansion of free childcare

Under the Carinthia government's 2018-2023 programme, the region is set to become the most child-friendly region in Europe, with support measures put in place for child education and childcare. One priority is providing support to meet the costs of parents or legal guardians, whose children are being educated and cared for in a crèche, nursery, kindergarten, an institution covering all ages or by a childminder.

With this initiative, Carinthia seeks to ensure that every child has the opportunity to access pre-school education free of charge. Numerous academic studies show that attending a pre-school educational institution has a positive influence on a child's skills development, creating favourable conditions for their subsequent educational path.

 

Pilot project – start of 2018-19 kindergarten year

Regional support to cover the costs of a child attending a pre-school educational institution was planned as a multi-stage project, with the ultimate aim of providing free childcare and education. The costs of meals and special services are excluded, which will continue to be met by parents or legal guardians. The first step towards substantially reducing the costs of pre-school education started with the 2018-19 kindergarten year.

In the first year, Carinthia paid 50% of the average parental contributions across the region (differentiated according to whether the child was attending a crèche, nursery, kindergarten or an institution covering all ages, minus the costs of meals). This support amounted to EUR 70 per month for a half-day attendance at a nursery or crèche, and EUR 105 for a full day. For a child attending a kindergarten or an institution covering all ages, the monthly grant was EUR 43 (half-day) and EUR 63 (full day).

For children with their main residence in Carinthia, attending a pre-school educational institution in the region or cared for by a childminder, all parents received a grant to meet the costs of their parental contribution, specified by the respective legal entity, for a maximum of 11 months (September 2018 to July 2019).

Support for children in the compulsory year of kindergarten continued to be provided under Article 15a of the Constitutional Law (B-VG) agreement, at a rate of EUR 85 per month. Parents with a child in the compulsory year of kindergarten and attending kindergarten all day (more than 7 hours) received an additional monthly grant of EUR 21.

The support is paid out by the Region of Carinthia to the legal entities of the respective educational institutions, which deduct it from parents' monthly contributions.

Support to meet the costs of the parental contribution for childminders is provided every month, starting from 60 hours of care per child per month, and per hour of care. In the 2018-19 kindergarten year, the funding per hour was EU 0.50.

Peter Kaiser with children

Second stage - 2019-20 kindergarten year 

With the start of the 2019-20 kindergarten year, support for the average parental contributions across Carinthia was increased from 50 to 66%. This meant that parents saved around two-thirds of the costs of childcare.

This funding was EUR 92 per month for a half-day attendance at a nursery or crèche, and EUR 139 for a full day. For a child attending a kindergarten or an institution covering all ages, the monthly grant was EUR 56 (half-day) and EU 83 (full day).

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in summer 2020 the child grant was also paid in August.

Support for children in the compulsory year of kindergarten continued to be provided under Article 15a of the Constitutional Law (B-VG) agreement, at a rate of EUR 85 per month. Parents with a child in the compulsory year of kindergarten and attending kindergarten all day (more than 7 hours) received an additional monthly grant of EUR 28.

Support to meet the costs of the parental contribution for childminders was EUR 0.66 per hour in the 2019-20 kindergarten year.

Consolidation - 2020-21 kindergarten year

In the 2020-21 kindergarten year, support will continue in line with the 2019-20 year. Owing to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is expected that parents will be in need of increased childcare in August 2021 too, so it has already been decided that the child grant will once again be paid out 12 times, i.e. in August too.

Moving towards expanding free childcare - 2021-22 kindergarten year

With the start of the 2021-22 kindergarten year, the kindergarten grant will continue to be provided at a rate of 66% and will be paid out for the period from September 2021 to August 2022 inclusive. However, the average parental contribution in Carinthia in June 2018 will be recalculated and increased on the basis of the average parental contributions across the province in June 2020, taking into account a 4% increase in September 2020. The costs of meals and special services are still excluded from the support, which are met by the parents.

From autumn onwards, the grant amounts to EUR 103 per month for a half-day attendance at a nursery or crèche, and EUR 157 for a full day. For a child attending a kindergarten or an institution covering all ages, the monthly grant is EUR 70 (half-day) and EUR 96 (full day).

Support for children in the compulsory year of kindergarten continues to be provided under Article 15a of the Constitutional Law (B-VG) agreement at a rate of EUR 85 per month, and remains unchanged at EUR 28 for children attending kindergarten all day (more than 7 hours).

Support to meet the costs of the parental contribution for childminders is increased on a monthly basis to EUR 0.70 per hour of childcare.

Peter Kaiser child protection

Free childcare - 2022-23 kindergarten year 

The aim is to implement the final stage in the 2022-23 kindergarten year and to make childcare free, i.e. from autumn 2022, the Region of Carinthia will meet 100% of the costs of average parental contributions across Carinthia.

The following childcare measures are also in the pipeline:

  • Gradual reduction of group sizes;
  • Holiday entitlement for children;
  • Better pay for primary school teachers;
  • More time set aside for preparation and post-evaluation;
  • Detailed provisions for the qualification and further training of care staff.
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