Place guarantee to ECEC
The start of compulsory pre-school education has recently been lowered to age 4 (Law 4521/2018). Children aged 4 and 5 attend pre-school education in nipiagogeio (ISCED 020). The implementation of this framework started during school year 2018-19 in 184 municipalities of the country.
Since school year 2020-21, the provision of two-year compulsory pre-school education is effective at national level (Law 4704/2020).
Under age 4, there is no legal guarantee to a place in ECEC; efforts are made, however, towards this direction.
During the last years, there has been an important discrepancy between the number of families’ voucher applications for a place in an ECEC setting for their children under 4 and the number of places available in certain areas. This was the case both in public and private settings.
The complementary programme created to improve access to public or private infant/childcare centres (provision of vouchers) is further extended, according to the relevant legislation by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of State (Joint Ministerial Decision 78812/2021, Joint Ministerial Decision 54128/2021, Official Government Gazette 3360/B/28-7-2021).
This programme aims at the financial support of families, resulting to an increased number of beneficiaries, children as well as their families, since it now includes public servants, employees of legal persons governed by public law or those of local and regional authorities. The main goal is the harmonization of family life and work and strengthening child protection.
This legislation also takes under consideration the European Child Guarantee Goals, especially for vulnerable children, such as to prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing the access of children in need, including those from low-income families, to quality Early Childhood Education and Care.
The different ECEC settings for children under age 4 (child care, infant care and infant/child care centres) may require board fees on a monthly basis, depending on the economic status of the family for more info on the provision of vouchers, see under Place Guarantee to ECEC).
Children may be transported to the municipality care centres, on condition that the latter provide their own means of transport and abide by the rules of safety. For infants, the transfer may be assigned to a special escort, or to members of the pedagogical staff, in rotation. The cost of transportation is determined by the Board of Directors of the Municipal infant care, infant/child care or child care centre and may be covered by an additional contribution of parents, depending on their financial ability. The compulsory 25 weekly hour program for 4- and 5-year olds in pre-schools (ISCED 020) is free of charge. Moreover, there is an optional full-day programme with an extended timetable providing 20 additional weekly hours, also free of charge.