The government intends to create another 10,000 kindergarten places in the coming years, the prime minister said today, calling the free childcare measures “a very important support for family income.”
“Now our goal is to expand over the next few years to 10,000 places in kindergartens across the country to meet the needs of families who are looking for kindergartens, but still do not have them,” said António Costa.
The Prime Minister spoke in Amadora, Lisbon, after visiting the Luis Madureira Kindergarten, accompanied by the Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Méndez Godinho, and the Secretary of State for Integration, Ana Sofia Antunes.
According to the chief executive, this increase in the number of places in kindergartens is provided for in an agreement that the government has signed “with the Union of Mercy, the Mutual Aid Union, the Union of Cooperatives, the National Confederation of Solidarity Institutions (CNIS)” and will be implemented under the Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PRR ) and Portugal 2030. Costa believes this increase in supply should be accompanied by a measure of free day care, as “many areas of the country”, including Amadora, have “many children” on the waiting list.
Regarding free day care, Costa said the measure will go into effect on September 1 and will be extended in the first year “to all children born on or after September 1, 2021.”
Next year, according to the prime minister, this allowance “will be extended to children who will attend not only the first, but also the second year, and, finally, in 2023, 2024 – to all children attending kindergartens.”
“To be clear about what this means, it means that the state is no longer exclusively supporting the lowest income families that were in the first and second tiers, which already had free day care – but now covers all children. regardless of family income and, therefore, becomes a universal measure,” he said.
Citing the example of Luis Madureira’s kindergarten he attended, Costa emphasized that in this particular institution “there were 10 children who were covered free of charge at the moment”, which increased to 48 as of September of this year.
Thus, the prime minister considered that free kindergartens are “a very important process, because it will mean a very important support for families’ incomes.” However, Costa emphasized that this is not a “isolated measure” and should be considered in conjunction with other measures such as updating family allowance levels, increasing this allowance and creating a childhood guarantee.
“This year we are taking a very important step towards our goal of pursuing a strong child support policy that will help us cope with the demographic challenge and, in particular, support families with children, who, of course, we all feel who need special support. especially in this very difficult year that we are all going through,” he stressed.
However, the prime minister emphasized that these “efforts would not have been possible without the fulfillment of a number of conditions”, starting with the emphasis on “good budget management” by the state.
“Despite the context of uncertainty we are living through, today we are strong enough to take these steps to strengthen social policies without compromising public debt reduction goals,” he stressed.
The second condition, according to the Prime Minister, is that “despite the surge in inflation” that is observed in Portugal, the economy “is holding up well” and companies “are finding new markets for exports.” and continue to “increase your production”.
Finally, the prime minister also underlined the “work in the spirit of closeness and solidarity” that the government is doing with “municipalities, as well as with all institutions of the third sector.”