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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational variations and alternative structures in ECEC


4.Early childhood education and care

4.5Organisational variations and alternative structures in ECEC

Last update: 27 November 2023


Alternative daycare: Sure Start Children’s Houses

Sure Start Children’s Houses provides an early childhood education and care service according to a methodology approved by the responsible minister. The minister publishes the methodology on the website of the ministry and also on the social sector portal, and ensures that it is updated as necessary.

Sure Start Children’s Houses promote the successful social integration of children and their families in cooperation with family and child welfare services and family and child welfare centres. The programme is for disadvantaged families raising children aged 0–5 years in disadvantaged microregions, settlements and parts of settlements. A child aged 0–3 years who visits a Sure Start Children’s House with their parent for at least 40 % of the opening days of the given month is considered to be a regular user of the service. At least half of the children who regularly use the services provided by Sure Start Children’s Houses must be children receiving regular child protection benefits, together with the additional condition that at least half of the children receiving the regular child protection benefits must also be considered disadvantaged or multiply disadvantaged.

In settlements and parts of settlements that lack services, Sure Start Children’s Houses are established to create the minimum material conditions to provide support services and to ensure the availability of the necessary specialists.

Sure Start Children’s Houses organise group meetings at least once a month, in which the family and child welfare service, kindergartens, other children’s institutions and, if necessary, other bodies of the child protection system participate. Emphasis is placed on cooperation between the family and child welfare services and centres.

Sure Start Children’s Houses must be open for 6 hours per working day (on average over a month), with an additional provision that the Children’s House must be open every working day between 8.00 and 12.00, with certain exceptions. Opening hours in excess of the mandatory opening hours are determined based on local needs by a person employed as a manager in the Sure Start Children’s House. The Sure Start Children’s House may be closed 5 working days a year to carry out the tasks set out in its work plan.

Parents are involved in the programme. Parental involvement is strengthened by the provision that family and child welfare services must inform parents about the rationale and conditions for using the Sure Start Children’s House service – namely to mitigate the harmful effects of parenting problems and deficiencies in the family – and they also must assist the families in the use of these services.

Sure Start Children’s House activities for children:

  • parenting forums
  • visiting nurse counselling
  • community programmes
  • parent group discussions
  • consultations
  • weekly play sessions.