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Child care in Austria

The adequate and flexible provision of child care facilities makes an important contribution to the reconciliation of family life and work, because the employment chances of parents particularly mothers depend on the availability of care offers for children and for other people who require help.

Through extension initiatives from the provinces and the municipalities with financial support from the federal government, numerous additional care places have been created in the last few years and opening hours in the afternoons and during holidays have been lengthened. Significant improvements in the offer of care services have been achieved, particularly for small children.

Currently, the enrolment-rate is 29% of 0 –3 year olds, in the case of 3 – 6 year olds it is 94,7%, and 15,5% of 6 – 10 year olds. (Source: statistics on child day care centre, July 2019).

According to Austrian constitutional law, the financing of child care facilities is primarily the responsibility of the provinces and the municipalities. To improve the reconciliation of work and family life the Austrian government invested € 442,50 million towards the expansion of childcare services from 2008 to 2018. In addition the regional governments (Länder) spent an extra € 252,75 million on the expansion of childcare. More than 76.000 places for children up to the age of six were created till 2018 as a result of this measure.

Since 2009 part-time daycare ist free of charge for 5-year olds throughout Austria. In 2010 pre-school education became compulsory. Additionally there is child care free of charge for the following age-groups in the different provinces:

  • Burgenland: reimbursement of parent's fees up to € 45,- per month (nursery school) or up to € 90,- (crèches)
  • Carinthia: 2019/20: 66 % of the average parental contributions for children up to 6 is subsidised; As of 2020/21 all-day care free of charge for children up to 6 
  • Lower and Upper Austria: part-time daycare free of charge for children between 2,5 and 6
  • Tyrol: part-time daycare free of charge for children between 4 and 6
  • Vienna: all- day care free of charge for children up to 6

Around 62,9% of all care facilities are operated by public bodies ( particularly municipalities). In addition, parishes, family organisations, non-profit associations, companies and private individuals also function as operators of facilities.

The types of institutions offering child care differ in particular according to the age structure of the children looked after in crèches, nursery schools, day homes and children’s groups, whereby the terms used in the individual provinces vary considerably. Alongside these offers, play groups and childminders also offer their services.

Crèches

Crèches are responsible for looking after children under the age of three in a manner suitable to their age. As this offer is primarily directed towards working parents, these facilities are largely open all day without a break and throughout the year.

Nursery schools/Kindergarten

Nursery schools offer a supplement to family care for children from the age of 3 until they start school. The aim of nursery school education is the promotion of the physical, mental and emotional development of the children via suitable playing and the educational effect of the group. Nursery schools are generally accepted as a good pre-school educational offer. Since September 2010 the attending of nursery school is compulsory for 5-year olds at the extend of 20 hours per week.

Day homes

Day homes are responsible for the care of pupils in compulsory schooling after lessons have ended and on days without school. Alongside support in doing homework and for examination preparation, these facilities also offer leisure time activities suited to the age of the respective children.

Child minders

Child minders predominantly look after small children, mostly together with their own children in a private home. The significance of this type of care has increased substantially in recent years, as on the one hand the number of day-care children has increased and on the other hand the qualifications of childminders have improved.  Training courses are obligatory.  A nationwide curriculum for training courses has been developed by the ministry. Training courses which are carried out according to the quality standards specified in the curriculum receive a stamp of quality.