From next year, residents in the Czech Republic will be able to earn money from the state for looking after several children from their neighborhood. This stems from an amendment to the law on children’s groups by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The initiative aims to provide parents with an additional option for childcare, particularly given the often insufficient capacity of nurseries and preschools.
The idea of so-called neighborhood children’s groups has long been missing. “It is a benefit for children and parents in small communities, where it is often necessary to travel far, but it can also benefit those in city centers, where it is difficult to find suitable facilities,” says Olga Richterová, a Pirate Party deputy and Vice-Chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies, who participated in the preparation of the amendment.
Establishing such groups will enable parents of the youngest children to return to the job market quickly. It also serves as another alternative to preschool education for parents who can’t afford a nanny. “Everyone who wants to offer their neighbors and acquaintances childcare can register in the Ministry’s database. However, they must have the same qualifications as operators of regular children’s groups, either secondary or higher education in the field of pedagogy, social or health care, or go through a nanny qualification course,” says MP for STAN Pavla Pivoňka Vaňková.
Neighborhood nannies would receive a subsidy from the state, which would be graduated according to the age of the children: the younger the child, the more money. Parents would also contribute to the group’s operation, up to a maximum of 5765 crowns per month in case of full-week attendance. “This payment should not be higher than the classic nursery fee,” Vaňková clarified. Parents would also have to provide their children with meals.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MLSA) will also control the neighborhood groups and their caregivers. Although some MPs and the Ministry had demanded that regional or municipal authorities control their operation with extended powers, the regions preferred to shift this obligation to the Ministry and succeeded.