Place guarantee to ECEC
In Latvia, all children from the age of 18 months until the start of primary education are legally entitled to a place in a preschool institution. Local governments (municipalities) are responsible for ensuring places for children in preschool educational institutions.
According to the Education Law:
If a local government does not ensure a place in a pre-school education programme implemented by the local government educational institution and the child is acquiring the pre-school education programme in a private educational institution, the local government shall cover the costs for such private service provider.
Children aged 5 and 6 years are obliged to attend preschool educational programmes.
The legislation does not specify the number of hours guaranteed in preschool education. According to the Regulations Regarding the State Guidelines for Pre-school Education and the Model Pre-school Education Programmes, the main form of teaching and learning in a preschool educational programme is learning through play or lessons based on play. This form of learning happens throughout the day, indoors and outdoors.
Preschool educational institutions in Latvia are usually open from 7.00 until 18.00.
The public budget covers the fees for the education and care activities of preschool education provided in public institutions. It means that no payment is expected for usual educational and care activities. However, a fee may still be payable for children's meals during the day and/or extra activities (e.g. English language tuition). Private educational institutions set their own fees.
If a local government cannot provide a sufficient number of places in public institutions and a child attends the educational programme in a private educational institution or receives the service of a childcare service provider - a certified babysitter - then, in accordance with the Education Law, the local government shall cover the costs for the private service provider:
Costs shall be covered in the amount that corresponds to the average costs necessary for one child in the pre-school education programme in educational institutions of the respective local government. If the child acquires a pre-school education programme implemented in educational institutions selected by the local government in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Public Procurement Law, the costs shall be covered in the amount which is determined as a result of the public procurement.
It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development to develop the methodology so that a local government can determine the average cost required per child in the preschool educational programme (from the age of 18 months until the start of primary education) at local government educational institutions. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development also specifies the procedures (available in Latvian) by which a local government is to cover the costs determined by the local government (see previous paragraph) of a preschool educational programme for a private educational institution.