Early childhood education and care does not form a single or uniform system in Poland. It is based on two systems: the childcare system supervised by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the education system that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science (since January 2021 when the Ministries of National Education and Science and Higher Education were merged).
Early childhood education and care is divided into two stages;
- For children aged 0–3 years (ISCED 010): centre-based childcare is provided in crèches (żłobki) and, since 2011, in kids’ clubs (kluby dziecięce), and home-based childcare is provided by day-care providers / childminders (opiekun dzienny) and nannies (niania).
- For children aged 3 to 6/7 years (ISCED 020): centre-based preschool education is provided in nursery schools (przedszkole), preschool classes (oddziały przedszkolne) in primary schools and other preschool education settings, including preschool education units (zespół wychowania przedszkolnego) and preschool education centres (punkt przedszkolny).
Crèches, day-care providers and nannies provide care to children aged at least 20 weeks, whereas kids’ clubs cater for children aged 1 year and above.
Preschool / pre-primary education is available to children from the beginning of the school year in the calendar year when they reach the age of 3 years until the end of the school year in the calendar year when they reach the age of 7 years. In exceptional cases, a child aged 2.5 years may participate in preschool education.
Pursuant to the Law on School Education of 14 December 2016 (ustawa z dnia 14 grudnia 2016 r. Prawo oświatowe), 6-year-old children are required to attend one year of preschool education.
3-year-old children have the right to preschool education guaranteed by law (3-year-olds since 1 September 2017; 4-year-olds since 1 September 2015; and 5-year-olds since 1 September 2009).