Objectives and accessibility
Family daycare providers, also known as childminders (Tagesmütter/Tagesväter) mainly look after children in private households before they enter a crèche or kindergarten, but they also provide afternoon childcare for schoolchildren. Childminders can also provide care in companies.
Childminders look after children as part of the daily family routine. They prepare food for themselves and the children, ensure that children play and take exercise, and provide play material. In most cases, childcare hours are more flexible with childminders than with crèches and kindergartens.
The majority of childminders are organised in associations, which, among other things, employ the childminders, take care of the settlement of fees, act as a point of contact, carry out quality control, and offer required training and further training for childminders.
The Austrian Federal Minister for Women, Family, Youth and Integration is responsible for the governance of childminders. This type of childcare has been promoted in the past few years, and the required qualification level of childminders has increased. Furthermore, the agreement between the federal government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for 2022/23 to 2026/27 stipulates that the number of childminder places for children under 3 years of age is to be increased. According to federal statistics, 2 198 childminders were employed nationwide in 2019/2020, looking after a total of 10 970 daycare children.
Governance of home-based provision is highly decentralised; most responsibility lies with the nine federal provinces. Matters pertaining to childminders and infant care are governed by specific childcare and daycare laws. Childminders require a permit from the responsible authority in the province in question to exercise the profession. Depending on the province, the responsible authority is the district commission, provincial government or municipal administration.
Costs for childminders vary between provinces and also within childminder associations. Parents or guardians receive financial support, usually dependent on income, for the care of their children by childminders.
If children are looked after by childminders in the year before school entry, the fundamental pedagogical document Children in the Year before Starting School – Guidelines for home care and care by childminders must be taken into consideration. These guidelines contain practical ideas for child-oriented educational work in the context of home care or care by childminders. Top-level guidelines on educational activities for the earlier years of childminding (before the year prior to school entry) do not exist.
Requirements for child minders and child ratios
In all provinces, pedagogical training is required to be able to work as a childminder. However, the type and scope of training vary greatly between the individual provinces (minimum requirements vary between 160 and 475 teaching units at 50 minutes per unit) and also between the various associations employing childminders.
Many associations and employers offer training for childminders. Continuing education and training is expected and made compulsory by some employers. In some provinces, childminder training courses are offered as dual training courses, where the participants can practise the professions of both childminding and group childcare after completion.
The Austrian Federal Minister for Women, Family, Youth and Integration endeavours to ensure the high quality of training for childminders and therefore, in 2011, introduced a quality seal awarded to training courses for childminders. This is an attempt to promote a qualification for childminders that is standardised throughout Austria and is supported, including financially, in accordance with the agreement between the federal government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for 2022/23 to 2026/27.
This seal is awarded to training courses that offer training in accordance with the Curriculum for Training Courses for Childminders after a board examination by the Austrian Federal Minister for Women, Family, Youth and Integration. According to this curriculum, training for childminders comprises 300 teaching units at 50 minutes per unit (theory and practice in a continuous course) as a minimum standard. In addition, for people with relevant vocational training, childminding training can be undertaken using this curriculum, which takes into account the skills already acquired and offers what is missing.
The curriculum was revised in 2019 alongside the introduction of the quality seal for training courses for childminders with regard to admission criteria, modernisation of terminology, and language support integrated into everyday life, and in accordance with the criteria for the implementation of the agreement between the federal government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for 2022/23 to 2026/27.
The regulations on the maximum number of children to be cared for by childminders are set out in the laws of the individual provinces and vary from province to province. In summary, it can be said that, on average, no more than four or five children (not including the childminder’s biological children) of pre-school age may be cared for simultaneously by a childminder.
Including the childminder’s own children or other related children under the age of 12 years, and in some provinces under the age of 16 years, four to six children may be looked after at the same time. If schoolchildren are also present, four to seven children may be looked after at the same time, depending on the province. However, the maximum number of children who can be looked after may be reduced depending on the space that the childminder has available. Child minders who are responsible for a small group of children in a company may work in pairs to look after a maximum of eight children.