EUROCITIES published a second report on how cities ensure early childhood education and child welfare in cities. Being part of the ‘Cities delivering social rights’ initiative, the publication reports on cities’ policy initiatives and good practices in line with the principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights - childcare and support to children.
Quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) is essential for giving children a good start in life and an effective means to address inequality and socioeconomic disadvantages. In addition to fostering social inclusion, affordable and quality ECEC is necessary for parental employment and female labour market participation. Therefore, it is a key measure for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.
The European Pillar of Social Rights recognises those needs in principle 11 “Childcare and support to children” and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through goal 4 on “Inclusive and equitable quality education.
The publication based on 23 cities’ responses in 15 EU members states, is providing general trends and inspiring practices regarding actions to tackle childhood education and child welfare in the cities.
- Regarding early childhood education and care issues, cities are globally facing 4 main challenges:
- Unequally distribution of childcare place across the city;
- Unequal ratio between supply and high demand for childcare;
- Insufficiency of governmental co-funding;
- Shortage of staff in childcare centres and unequal qualification of preschool teachers
Cities actively work on these challenges by increasing the availability of ECEC facilities, providing support for active social inclusion for disadvantaged children and families, as well as introducing special subsidies to support quality ECEC and offering training programmes for ECEC staff.
- Three main challenges were stressed by the members regarding children poverty:
- The lack of suitable instruments to measure data directly related to the child in a systemic way
- The social situation in cities evolves faster than available national level data
- Children risk falling through the system’s cracks in situation where hidden forms of poverty may be overlooked
To combat child poverty, cities are trying to provide integrated and preventative services to promote equal opportunities and give all children a good start in life. Cities also implement comprehensive strategies to reduce child poverty at local level.
Based on the cities challenges and actions, EUROCITIES proposed some policy recommendations for the cities, the member states and the EU to provide all children with global and sufficient education and care services. Improving access to affordable and quality care, supporting transitions to unitary ECEC systems, investing in staff education and training as well as increasing peer-to-peer learning and building capacity for data collection in partnership with local authorities are action that need to be considered.
Photo credits:City of Amsterdam, Preschool Spijkerboom, Amsterdam, photographer Sander Foederer