In relation to the number of children under the age of three years, there have never before been this many crèche places in Hungary, the Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Human Capacities said at a press conference held in a crèche in the 1st district of Budapest.
Katalin Novák said that compared with 2010 the number of places available for young children in crèches has increased one and a half times.
At present there are places for 48,000 children in the country, but they would like to increase this number to 60,000 in the coming years.
A decision recently adopted by the government seeks to assist with this ambitious plan. Based on the decision, from a budgetary allocation of HUF 20 billion it will be possible to create further places, the Minister of State added.
She said that in the past few years the Hungarian government has spent more than HUF 120 billion on additional places for children in crèches and nursery schools. From this allocation they have created almost five thousand new crèche places and another 11,000 have been refurbished, while in the case of nursery schools more than 3,100 new places have coming into being and over 58,000 places have been upgraded.
Mrs Novák also highlighted that in recent years they have renewed the entire crèche care system, and have also made possible the development of new types of crèches. In addition to traditional facilities, there are now mini, family and work place crèches as well.
The goal of the government is to ensure that raising children should not be an obstacle to engaging in employment, while engaging in employment should not be an obstacle to the decision of raising more children.
They would like to help families where the parents are working and are raising children under the age of three years, Mrs Novák said.
She highlighted that the government is now appreciating crèche workers more also financially, and those with degrees have been channelled to the teacher career model system which represents a 63 per cent pay rise among them on average. They have also increased the salaries of those with secondary or lower qualifications; in their case this means a 40 per cent pay rise on average, she said.
She observed that the number of crèche workers has increased by almost 20 per cent, and the percentage of degree-holders is also on the increase, thanks to the opportunities available in further training.
In answer to a question Mrs Novák also said that
this year they have changed over to function-based funding in the case of crèches, and thanks to this the budgetary allocation intended for these facilities has increased 3.5-fold.
This means that they are reimbursing the arising expenditures, based on the financial situations of the municipalities concerned, and as a result, municipalities no longer make a loss on the operation of crèches.
Municipalities may charge fees for services, but fewer than one half of local authorities avail themselves of this option, she observed.
Additionally, almost 90 per cent of children attending crèches receive their meals free of charge, Mrs Novák added.
Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu