ESIP Members discuss childcare in a historical perspective

On the occasion of the Family and Social Inclusion Committee meeting, Members discussed their respective childcare policies. Frédérique Leprince, Deputy Director at the Direction of International and European relations of the French National Family fund (CNAF) presented the French approach on childcare in a historical prospective.

She recalled the long tradition in France of collective and individual measures for child caring with the first intervention of the State in 1350 for protecting and regulating the profession of nurses while the first collective nursery was set up in 1844. If the first idea was to fight against child mortality, the French policy evolved with the industrial revolution to support women’s participation to the labor market and after the May 1968 events to accept all kind of family models.

Her presentation triggered a lively discussion among the FaSI members as regard the policies and situation of their own country (political background supporting policy choices, features of child care facilities, financing of establishment and access to these facilities, organizations of work for parents, etc.), illustrating diversity of situations among the different EU Member States.

One of the related topics was the evolution of grand-parents’ involvement in today’s child caring. In France for example, this group is less and less willing to support the charge while in Germany and Austria many grand-parents are asked to care for their grand-children instead of having them registered in a formal day care facility. However, in the Netherlands, as an EU country with high-levels of part-time work, the need for day care facilities is not as important as in other countries and the risk of shortage is limited, and instead grand-parents who register as childminders are facing higher requirements in educational training than in the past.

In many Member states, debates occur concerning the link between the prevention of fundamentalism and social integration through education and especially early education.

Some new trends and challenges in child care provisions were as well highlighted by Ms Leprince: gaps between preferences of parents and actually available childcare (lack of accessibility) and high geographical disparities.