Place guarantee to ECEC
Regional Centre for the Care of Small Children (Regionalzentrum für Kleinkindbetreuung - RZKB) facilities for children aged under 3 years are accessible to all parents in the German-speaking Community. However, there is no legal right to childcare or a guarantee of a place in the German-speaking Community. As a result, there are usually rather long waiting lists for childcare.
There are Kinderkrippen in three of the nine municipalities and childminder houses (Tagesmütterhäuser) in two of the nine municipalities. Childminders can be found in all nine municipalities of the German-speaking Community. As far as possible, the RZKB tries to offer parents childcare that is close to their place of residence or work.
From the age of 3 years, children are legally entitled to 28 teaching hours (50 minutes per hour) per week of pre-primary education in kindergarten.
As a result of an amendment to the federal law of 29th June 1983 on compulsory education, compulsory education has started at the age of 5years since 1st September 2020. Therefore, children aged of 5 years are required to attend pre-primary education full time.
The constitution guarantees parents not only free access to and freedom of choice of school but also the right to choose between government-aided public schools run by provincial or local authorities or government-aided private schools. As pre-primary and primary schools exist in all large villages, there are no problems with fulfilling the place guarantee. In remote areas, where small schools with fewer than 6 pupils in pre-primary and fewer than 12 primary pupils are unable to operate.
RZKB is the main institution governing the establishment and organisation ofattendance at childcare facilities in the German-speaking Community. It has the legal status of a non-profit organisation and works in cooperation with the local public institutions. ECEC for children up to the age of 3 years falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Education and Scientific Research.
There are various forms of childcare in the German-speaking Community.
- Up to the age of 3 years, care is mainly provided by child-minders (“Tagesmütter”). Child-minders either work independently, and thus determine the contractual details of the care themselves, or are affiliated with the RZKB as part of a child-minding service. In both cases, child-minders care for the children in the childminder's own homes
- There are also organisations in which several childminders work together under one roof. They are called “child-minder houses. The child-minders themselves determine the contractual details of the care or, if they carry out their activities together as co-child-minders, in external premises.
- There is also a centre-based setting known as a Kinderkrippe. In total, all three Kinderkrippen have a capacity of 24 places for children aged 0 to 3 years.
The cost of childcare depends on the type of childcare.
Self-employed childminders set the rates themselves.
The cost of childcare provided by the RZKB both in Kinderkrippen and by affiliated childminders depends on the monthly income of the parents. The amount parents have to pay per month also depends on the number of days the child was in childcare during that month.
The minimum amount that parents have to pay is EUR 1.39 per full day of childcare, this is if they have a monthly net household income of EUR 495 . The maximum amount is EUR 27.10 per full day childcare for those with a monthly net household income above EUR 5,057 . The tariff table is included in the annex to the government decree of 22 May 2014.
Pre-primary education is administered and subsidised by the German-speaking Community and falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.
Enrolling a child in primary education is free, for both kindergartens and primary schools. The school is not allowed to charge any enrolment fee. The materials and activities that are necessary for the attainment of targets and development goals are also free of charge. The school cannot charge for:
- didactic material for pedagogical purposes, including extracurricular activities that have an educational objective and are not included in the curriculum, in-service training for staff members, purchase of didactic material that is made available to the pupils free of charge but remains the property of the school;
- 1-day cultural or sporting activities taking place during school hours at the school;
- swimming lessons and transport to the swimming pool;
- the functional costs of the school;
- costs for the awarding of diplomas.
Schools often use more materials and offer more activities during school time than are strictly necessary for the attainment of the targets and development goals. Schools can also offer other services. In these expenses, the school can ask the parents for a contribution. However, the contribution requested may not exceed the cost to the school.
Schools charge fees for school meals, but children are free to bring in their own lunch or to go home for lunch.
The German-speaking Community does not usually provide school transport for children attending pre-primary education.
There is no autonomous pre-primary education system.