Early Childhood Education and Care: Czech Republic

In order to create the best educational course for nurses possible, it is necessary to understand the background in the Early Childcare and Education, its purpose and ways of work in the European countries. That is why the partners are working on a comparative study about the Early childcare and Education System in the partner countries.

The next country we would like to present after GreeceFlanders and Sweden is the Czech Republic.

Parenthood and employment

One important characteristic of the post-communist countries, in comparison with the old EU member states, is the long tradition of the relatively high participation of women in the formal labour market. Although this is also true in the Czech Republic, there is significant impact of motherhood on female employment as the effect of certain cultural and institutional pressures. As most women still stay at home (and receive full parenthood benefits) for 3 years, there is often a loss of competencies valued in the labour market, which would secure adequately remunerated and sustainable employment. Therefore mothers of young children are one of the most disadvantaged groups on the labour market.

Maternity/parental leave and benefits

As an employee, in the Czech Republic you are entitled to go on maternity leave lasting 28 weeks (in case of multiple births 37 weeks) and the pay is 70% of your previous income. You can start your maternity leave 6 to 8 weeks before the date your baby is due and must not finish earlier than 6 weeks after the birth.

The conditions for getting maternity leave are the following:

  1. You were participating as an employee in the sickness insurance plan for at least 270 calendar days over the last two years before the starting day of your maternity leave or you paid the insurance yourself as an entrepreneur
  2. You are still entitled to the maternity benefit if your insurance plan expired under the condition that you are going to start your maternity leave in so called protection period. This protection period lasts 180 days. If you were employed for a shorter period of time, the protection period lasts for the same amount of days as your last employment.

After maternity leave you can take parental leave.  It is granted to you by your employer after you finish your maternity leave. It may also be granted to the father of the child from the date of the child’s birth. According to the Czech Labor Code employers must provide a mother or a father time off from work if requested, but keep the place available for them to return after the leave.

Parental leave lasts until the child is 3 years old. If your child is older than 3 years of age and you want to stay home with him/her, you must apply for approved absence from work in order to take care of your child. This absence from work is not your right, it depends on your employer´s decision.

Parental benefits can be provided the longest until the child reaches the age of 4. The monthly payments can vary significantly and they depend on the planned lenght of the parental leave and on the parents’ salaries. The total of a benefit reaches 220 000 CZK/8 800 EUR (330 000 CZK/ 13200 EUR with twins/multiple birth).

From 2018 also father´s leave of one week is available. The father gets 70% of his income and can take time off within 6 weeks after the baby as born.

Childcare provision

Before 1989 nurseries were very popular and when in the 90’s the demand for places in nurseries decreased, they used to be run without a greater change in the child care system until 2012. Until March 2012 nurseries belonged to healthcare facilities falling under the competence of the Ministry of Health. The legislation was contained primarily in the law on public healthcare. The nurseries were mainly public facilities and when run as non-governmental facilities, they followed the law on healthcare services provided in private healthcare facilities.

In 2013 the Ministry of Health decided that there is no need to provide the child care services (taking care of healthy children and their comprehensive development) as a form of healthcare and all nurseries had to change their legal status.

Since April 2013 a nursery may be operated as a professional business facility. The service providers are required to meet certain standards such as professional competence of the entrepreneur and qualification of the nurses as well as specific hygiene requirements and other legal conditions.

Since 2014 there is a new law on providing child care services in so called „child groups“ as an activity on a non-commercial basis and as an alternative to the official preschool educational system in the Czech Republic. Child groups are designated for children from 1 to 6 years old.

Qualification of nurses/childcare professionals

In childr groups one of the following obligatory professional competence is necessary:

  1. professional competence of a general nurse, medical assistant, midwife, health and social worker, paramedic, psychologist in health care or clinical psychologist
  2. professional competence of a social worker or a worker in social services
  3. professional qualification of kindergarten teacher, teacher in a primary school or an educator
  4. a professional qualification of a nurse for children under the mandatory school age
  5. the professional competence of a doctor

To gain the professional qualification according to d) you have to complete a course accredited by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs with given standards. This course contains compulsory modules of education and consists of 100 hours of theory and 60 hours of practice.

Apart from children groups there are also kindergartens designed for children in the age from 3 to 6 years old. Kindergartens are overseen by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Teachers in kindergartens have to have a University degree from pre-school education. Some kindergartens also take children from age 2.

Kindergartens can be public (run by municipalities) or private (not for profit or for profit).