Suitable facilities are to be incorporated into every ECEC teacher training college to provide practice kindergartens and, if necessary, practice daycare centres in order to support the training of future kindergarten teachers. This is regulated by the School Organisation Act.
Practice kindergartens are subject to regulation by the federal government and its laws, whereas other ECEC services are regulated by provincial laws. Depending on regional and situational conditions, up to 24 children are usually cared for. The practice kindergartens must be available for 12–14 hours per week for the practical training of the students (observing and practising). Up to four students may practise at the same time in a practice kindergarten group.
In practice kindergartens, the compulsory kindergarten year and language support must be carried out as in other kindergartens in accordance with the agreement between the federal government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for 2022/23 to 2026/27.
Parent-managed children’s groups
Private initiatives have given rise to new approaches to and forms of childcare. Children’s groups (usually organised as parent-managed children’s groups) are characterised by the incorporation of parents’ or guardians' requests and by a high degree of personal responsibility. Typically, children are cared for in mixed-age groups of 10–15 children.
The staff often consist of child group supervisors, a role for which a qualification as a kindergarten teacher is not required. The scope of the training as a child group supervisor is comparable to the training as a childminder and also entitles the holder to carry out this activity.
Depending on the provider, the training comprises 270–340 teaching units at 50 minutes per unit of theory and 160–176 teaching units at 50 minutes per unit of practice. Some training courses also include 80 teaching units of self-study. The groups are supported by parents’ or guardians' financial contributions, various subsidies from the provincial and federal governments and the parents’ or guardians' personal contributions (in terms of providing their time to support the groups).
The provider is usually a parents’ association. The Federal Association of Austrian Parent-Managed Children’s Groups functions, among other things, as a representative of the interests of the provincial associations of parent-managed children’s groups at federal level and is responsible for public relations and educational work as well as initial and continuing education and training of child group supervisors.
Children’s groups are regulated by the child education and care laws or daycare laws of the individual provinces.