The coalition agreement of the Civic Coalition, Poland 2050, the Polish People’s Party and the New Left, which included an announcement of the expansion of the nursery network and support, but only for those mothers who choose to return to work after maternity leave.
The implementation of only these demands would be a thoughtless implementation of the “Barcelona 2030 goals” adopted in 2022 by the European Council, which demands that parents from EU countries send at least 45% of their children to nurseries. children up to 3 years old
The Ordo Iuris Institute has been pointing out for years that the statist model of “defamilisation”, in which the state supports only nursery care, without giving parents the freedom to choose a cost-effective alternative, is harmful to both demography and upbringing.
Point 6 of the coalition agreement concluded between Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition, Szymon Hołownia’s Polska 2050, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz’s Polish People’s Party and Włodzimierz Czarzasty’s New Left includes the following postulate: “Particular emphasis will be placed on the expansion of the nursery network. At the same time, the parties to the Coalition unanimously admit that in order to build social capital and equalize the position of women on the labor market, it is necessary to provide additional support for women in returning to work after maternity leave. This postulate is too general to be subjected to detailed critical analysis. Already in its current form, however, it is an announcement of the continuation of the harmful policy of “defamilisation” (imposed by the European Council) and the perpetuation of the statist model of care for children up to 3 years of age – the government supporting only institutional care (nurseries and children’s clubs). The appropriate form of family policy would be to create a financial mechanism that would restore parents’ full freedom of choice as to whether they want to entrust the care of their children to nurseries or children’s clubs, caregivers or nannies, grandmothers or grandfathers, or to do it themselves. The Ordo Iuris Institute has been calling for the introduction of a mechanism in the form of a care and education voucher for years. It would be available to parents of all children up to 3 years of age and would have a value equal to the cost of caring for one child in a nursery.
“Barcelona Goals 2030”
In March 2002, before Poland joined the European Union, the European Council stated at its meeting in Barcelona that “member states should eliminate restrictions discouraging women from participating in the labor market” by providing institutional care to “at least 33% of women”. children under three years of age.” 20 years later, in December 2022, the European Council adopted an even more radical form of this demand, recommending that parents give as much as 45% of their children to nurseries and other forms of institutional care. their children. The Ordo Iuris Institute then warned against the new “Barcelona 2030 goals”, pointing out that such recommendations violate the principle of subsidiarity and “member states must resolutely defend the autonomy of the family and the right of parents to decide how to raise their own children.” However, the previous Polish governments – both PO-PSL in 2007-2015 and the United Right in 2015-2023 – have consistently implemented the “Barcelona goals”. While in September 2010 the Polish government reported that institutional care was provided to “less than 2 percent”. children aged 0-3 years”, in 2015 the nursery use rate was already 12.4%, in 2020 – 25.5%, and at the end of 2021 – almost 30%.
Care and education voucher as an alternative to the statist model
The Ordo Iuris Institute already pointed out in an extensive, 188-page report on family policy from 2015 that “although [żłobek] it may have a positive impact on intellectual development and equalize the opportunities of some children from the poorest or broken families; placing a child there without taking into account the level of its development or for too long a week may negatively affect its mental and physical health. As numerous studies indicate, the likelihood of a negative impact of being in a nursery on a child’s development increases with the average number of hours the child spends in this type of facility. Therefore, the Institute proposed an alternative to the unilateral financing of institutionalized collective care for children through the development of childcare vouchers, which “allow for equal rights in terms of access to state aid for people who have chosen other forms of childcare than state nurseries and kindergartens. A parenting voucher may take the form of a direct financial transfer in an amount similar to the costs of institutional care for a child of a given age, the expenditure of which is decided by the parents of the child who does not benefit from collective institutional care. It may be supplemented by mechanisms enabling parents using collective institutional care to decide which of the private or public institutions offering various forms of child care will be able to benefit from the subsidy for their child from public funds. This report remains valid today, when data from the Central Statistical Office show that in 2022, only 305,000 children were born in Poland – about 27,000 fewer than in 2021, which is the lowest number of births since World War II. world, and yet subsequent ministers prefer to boast about the number of open nurseries instead – following the example of other countries whose legal status is described in the report – to financially enable parents to freely choose between personal and collective care, taking into account all intermediate solutions.-
Optional familization instead of defamilization
Marcin Kędzierski, expert of the Analysis Center of the Jagiellonian Club in the report entitled “An alternative to a nursery. “System of care for children up to 3 years of age in Poland” of 2022, notes that “however, the description of the functioning of the system of care for children up to 3 years of age in Poland cannot focus solely on defamilisation activities. In the last decade, both the governments of the PO-PSL coalition and the United Right have introduced a number of new solutions (in addition to the existing ones, such as a one-off benefit for the birth of a child, the so-called baby allowance) strengthening the model of optional familization. According to the Jagiellonian Club expert, the government should focus on the model of optional familization and strengthen the existing institution of day care, introduced into the Polish law following the example of France, which “allows children to remain in conditions similar to home, in close to natural, different-age peer groups. Moreover, this model has significantly lower bureaucratic barriers to entry.” The care and education voucher proposed by the Ordo Iuris Institute would also support this form of care, leaving the final choice to the parents themselves. The Institute’s report from 2015 clearly emphasized that “in the realities of a free market economy, it is difficult to understand the reasons for formulating such far-reaching administrative barriers that make it difficult for private entities to take care of a small child. Eliminating these restrictions would contribute to the increase in the popularity of the day care institution and would also enable professional activation of many people, especially women and older people.
The new government should support the ancillary childcare model
Over the last 8 years, the Ordo Iuris Institute has recalled its demand for an educational voucher several times – for example in a 202-page report entitled “Care for children up to 3 years of age in Poland and around the world. Legal, economic and social aspects” from 2018, in the document entitled “Education voucher – main assumptions” from 2019 and in the text entitled “On the way to a better model of care for small children” from 2020. The Institute also pointed out that the statist model exposed its flaws during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when it turned out that the creation of mass care institutions was not effective. exam, leaving gainfully employed parents without help in caring for their children.
The new government, composed of representatives of KO, PL2050, PSL and the Left, should definitely clarify the specification of the general postulate expressed in the coalition agreement, moving away from the harmful model of exclusive defamilization outlined therein in favor of a model of optional familization, leaving parents free to choose the form of care for their own children consistent with their beliefs. Making the possibility of receiving state aid conditional on the forced return of both parents to work and leaving their child in nurseries would violate Art. 71 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, which obliges the state to take into account the good of the family and to provide special assistance to all mothers before and after the birth of a child – both those who work and those who decide to provide personal care for their children.
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