Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting
Childcare at crèches and home-based provision are available to children aged at least 20 weeks, and kids’ clubs to children aged at least 1 year. Children can attend those settings until the end of the school year in which they reach the age of 3 years; where it is not possible or difficult for the child to participate in preschool education, the age limit is 4 years.
The Act of 4 February 2011 on the Care for Children aged up to 3 years (ustawa o opiece nad dziećmi w wieku do lat 3) does not specify conditions, except for age, for enrolling children in crèches (żłobek), kids’ clubs (klub dziecięcy) or day-care provider (opiekun dzienny) settings (home-based provision).
An entity that has established a crèche or kids’ club adopts its own statutes, which lay down admissions criteria or conditions, including priority given to large families with many children and to children with disabilities. The statutes also specify criteria which determine priorities for admission to a crèche or kids’ club. These can include, for example, the following:
- a single parent’s child;
- a child from a large family;
- a child with a disability certificate;
- a child from a foster family;
- a child of parents with disabilities.
Compliance with requirements for compulsory childhood vaccinations is an additional criterion in some communes.
Choice of a setting
Priority in admission to a crèche is given to children of working parents who live within the territory of a given commune. Considering the limited number of available places, crèches and kids’ clubs give priority to children of working parents and, for example, children whose parents are returning to the labour market after maternity/parental leave, are unemployed or are economically inactive. As the network of institutions is relatively small, parents do not have a wide range of options available. Not infrequently, they may have no choice other than to apply for a place in a crèche or kids’ club located far from their home.
Group size and child–staff ratios
The maximum number of children per childminder in a crèche or kids’ club is 8. However, the maximum number is 5 when a group includes a child with a disability, a child requiring special care or a child under 1 year of age.
Crèches with more than 20 children employ at least one nurse or midwife. Crèches and kids’ clubs may have volunteers supporting the provision of childcare. Volunteers who do not have the necessary qualifications are required to complete 40 hours of training in baby/child first aid.
A day-care provider may take care of a maximum of 5 children (up to 8 children in exceptional cases). However, the maximum number is 3 when a group includes a child who is under 1 year of age, has a disability or requires special care.
Annual, weekly and daily organisation
The Act of 4 February 2011 on the Care of Children aged up to 3 yearsdoes not specify the number of working hours per week for childcare institutions.
Working hours in crèches and kids’ clubs are determined by their organisational regulations, taking into account parents’ preferences. Crèches and kids’ clubs provide care for up to 10 hours per day. In special cases, at parental request, the duration of the stay can be extended for an additional fee. For a day-care provider (home-based provision), working hours are set in an agreement between the provider and the employing entity.
The majority of crèches (60.3%) were open for 5 to 10 hours per day, and other institutions for less than 10 hours. Most kids’ clubs (91.9%) worked for 5 to 10 hours a day, and very few ones for up to 5 hours (5.8%) and still fewer for more than 10 hours (2.3%).
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, temporary restrictions on the activities of crèches and kids’ clubs were introduced in 2020. They remained in place in the first half of 2021.
Thus, an additional childcare allowance was introduced for parents with children aged up to 8 years. Parents were entitled to receive it in case childcare institutions were closed or their activities were restricted. Parents received an additional allowance also in case a crèche, kids’ club or an entity employing day-care providers could not provide care to children when these institutions were closed or their activities were temporarily restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.