Place guarantee to ECEC
Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), although part of the education system in legislative terms, was not compulsory until recently. According to the provisions of Law 56/2019, since September 2020, the final year of ECEC has been compulsory. From September 2023, the starting age of compulsory education will be lowered to 4 years; from September 2030, it will be lowered further to 3 years.
Currently, there is no legal entitlement to a place in ECEC for children under the age of 5 years. As the education of children in their family during the first 7 years of age is culturally encouraged, attendance at ECEC services, especially for children under 3 years old (crèches) is very low. This is particularly true in rural areas.
In accordance with National Education Law 1/2011, education is free of charge.
Therefore, no fees are charged for children attending ECEC services in the public sector. However, parents do pay fees for the meals when children attend long-hours (10 hours/day) or weekly ECEC programmes. The amount varies between EUR 2 and EUR 4 per day. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive a subsidy from local authorities (mayor’s offices) and are fully or partially exempted from the fees for meals. For children attending regular-hours programmes (5 hours/day) there are no costs for meals. In this case, parents provide a daily snack for their children to have at kindergarten, at about 10.00.
For children attending ECEC in the private sector, the fees that parents pay are determined by individual institutions and are used to cover the costs of staff, supplies, transportation, food, etc.