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Informal meeting of ministers for family affairs focuses on quality of pre-school care

On 4 and 5 February 2009, an informal meeting of ministers responsible for family policy was held in Prague. The meeting was attended by Dr Anja Kopač Mrak, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs. The Czech Presidency focused the discussion on issues concerning the Barcelona objectives, which define the percentage of inclusion into pre-school care.


In her address, Dr Kopač Mrak stressed that Slovenia has never questioned the value and legitimacy of the Barcelona objectives. The provision of high-quality and accessible institutional care is of great importance to young parents and gives them the possibility of choice. Attainment of the Barcelona objectives is very important in the context of the Lisbon Strategy objective of a 60% female employment rate.


Traditionally, Slovenia has recorded a high female employment rate and exceeds the Lisbon Strategy objectives; this is facilitated by traditionally well-organised institutional child care.


The State Secretary underlined Slovenian efforts and measures aimed at making institutional care even more accessible. Last year a law was enacted that enables parents with two or more children in kindergarten to pay the fee for the oldest child only. The payment is partly co-financed by the state, based on a payment scale and in accordance with the income and assets of the parents.


Family policy must be harmonised across several areas. The accessibility and organisation of kindergartens, as well as attainment of the Barcelona objectives, represent one aspect. It is also important to pursue family policy objectives through measures taken in the labour market. Young parents must be enabled to reconcile professional and family life through flexible forms of employment. Dr Kopač Mrak pointed out there is an increasing number of companies in Slovenia holding the certificate “Family-Friendly Enterprise”.


A further aspect to be considered is good family legislation which provides for appropriate child and maternity benefits. Through a coordinated approach young parents, particularly young mothers, will no longer be required to choose between a family and a career. The ministry believes that Europe is on the right path and must move forward together.


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