The coverage at the stations has been expanded, says the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs cites information on the operation of daycare centers and what applies to vouchers and beneficiaries in response to? accusations of the opposition, according to which many children are left out of stations. The ministry answers ten questions about the stations. Particularly:
1. The opposition claims that many thousands of children are left out of nursery schools. What do you answer to that?
No child has been left out of nursery school! All applications for nurseries have been filled! It is typical that 111,000 children receive vouchers in the nurseries for the period 2022-2023. The corresponding number of vouchers for 2021 was 97,000, while in 2019 the number of children who received vouchers reached 84,000 (a 32% increase).
This year starts with more children than ever in the nurseries, the Children’s Creative Employment Centers (KDAP) and the Creative Employment Centers for People with Disabilities (KDAP AmaA). The increase in the budget of the relevant program to 333 million euros (from 270 million euros in 2019) made it possible to grant a total of 180,000 vouchers (for infants, toddlers, primary school and disabled children) compared to 155,000 given in 2019 (an increase of 16 %).
2. Then which children is the opposition protesting about since you say that all the applications for nursery places were covered?
Indeed, no child was left out of nursery school. We underline it. The opposition seeks a conscious confusion between nurseries and Creative Employment Centers (CEDs). The KDAPs cover children aged 5-12.
There is absolutely no issue at KDAP PWDs. The discussion arises because of the remaining KDAP. What is happening there; In KDAP, the same beneficiaries as last year were maintained, reaching 60,000 coupons. So in no case, not even in KDAP, was there a reduction in the effort to cover the needs compared to last year and the distant past. However, we note that the excess demand in KDAP will be dealt with in four ways:
First, with the allocation of an additional special fund of 5 million euros that is expected to be given through the Ministry of the Interior and the Hellenic Society for Local Development and Self-Government (EETAA).
Second, with the new allocation of unused vouchers in early 2023
Thirdly, with additional support from the co-competent Ministries of Finance and Development from the Public Investment Program (PPE), so that more than 10,000 vouchers can be granted for the specific structures.
Fourth and most importantly, with the expansion of full-day school, a program immediately promoted by the Ministry of Education with 50% funding from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, covers the same ages and concerns tens of thousands of children.
3. How will this additional funding work in conjunction with the new allocation of vouchers for KDAP?
The possibility to activate the vouchers for the nurseries is until May 2, 2023. On the contrary, for the KDAP it is until December 1, 2022. This gives the possibility to have a new distribution of the unused vouchers at the beginning of 2023 by including new beneficiaries in the program. In addition, as recently announced by EETAA, which is the implementing body of the voucher program, with special funding of 5 million euros expected to be given by the Ministry of the Interior, the number of benefiting children who are going to enroll in Municipal KDAP will increase.
4. And how is the extension of full-day school related to KDAP?
But essentially they are related to the same subject! One cannot turn a blind eye to this program – the extension of the full-day school, that is – which has a strong social sign and covers the same needs and the same families. We are talking about extending the opening hours until 17.30 in 2,063 full-day primary schools in Athens, Thessaloniki and the Region. This may not fully satisfy the owners of some KDAP, of course, but it covers families and their needs. And that, after all, is the point. The question is not the owners of the KDAP, but the father, the mother and the children.
5. In relation to the KDAPs for the disabled that you referred to, what is the change?
In the KDAP with disabilities, all children with disabilities receive vouchers, regardless of their family’s income. This year we have around 9,000 children, while the corresponding number for 2019 was 4,500, an increase of almost 50%. We have prioritized this particular part of the program for obvious reasons that we are sure everyone understands.
6. What has finally changed in the program regarding the vouchers for places in nurseries?
As already noted, 111,000 children are receiving vouchers in the nurseries for this year 2022-2023, which is also the largest number ever. The corresponding figure for 2019 was 84,000. In other words, 27,000 more children received vouchers securing them places in full-care infant, toddler and nursery schools. In this way, the great importance that the government attaches to preschool education, which is a central pillar of its social policy, is highlighted.
7. Have the income criteria for inclusion in the nursery school program changed recently?
Yes, indeed the program was expanded. The income criteria for inclusion in the nursery school program have increased by 6,000 euros compared to 2019, as can be seen from the indicative examples we cite:
A family with 2 children and an annual income of up to €33,000 this year receives a voucher, while in 2019, to receive it, their income had to be below €27,000.
A family with 3 children and an annual income of up to €36,000 this year receives a voucher, while in 2019, to receive it, their income had to be below €30,000.
8. Can public and private employees participate in the program?
An injustice of years has been corrected, as it is also possible for employees in the public sector to be able to get vouchers for KDAP from this year and not only for nurseries (possibility valid from 2020). Therefore, regardless of whether the employer is a private person or the State, the employee now has the same opportunity to get vouchers for all categories of structures, which was not the case until now for employees in the public sector.
9. Did only the number of vouchers or the value of each voucher increase?
At the same time, with the increase in the overall budget, a 10% increase in the value of each voucher at the stations was ensured in order to support businesses due to their increased expenses (e.g. in a daycare center: from 2,375 euros to 2,612 euros per year) .
10. In other words, is the government completely satisfied with its policy on the issue of nurseries and children’s creative employment centers?
There is always room for improvement. However, no one can dispute that both funds and places in crèches and KDAP have overall increased significantly compared to 2019. No one in good faith can dispute that no child has been left out of crèches. No one in good faith can also dispute that all children were covered for KDAP with disabilities. Finally, no one in good faith can dispute that for the remaining KDAP, as many vouchers were issued as last year. The increased demand in KDAP can be covered by other methods: By the distribution of unused vouchers, with additional funding through the Ministry of the Interior and the Public Investment Program, but mainly through the expansion of the full-day primary school that can cover tens of thousands of Greek families. The method of coverage is different, but the result is the same.
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