On Tuesday, Family Minister Sophie Karmasin of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) announced that the government would be creating an additional 3,000 Kindergarten places, at a cost to the state of €98 million over the next four years.
Most of the new places will go towards crèche care for under-three-year-olds. Karmasin described the situation in Vienna in regard to Kindergarten opening times, and the small number of days each year which they are closed. "This is paradise", she said.
"It was a tough negotiation," reported Vienna Councillor Christian Oxonitsch of the Socialist Party (SPÖ). Now he is pleased with the result. Vienna will invest in the next four years around €98 million in the expansion of care, with around €69 million coming from the federal government.
Vienna's Kindergartens typically remain open for nine hours each day, which was praised as an ideal situation, however there was a 'need for improvement' in other states, according to Karmasin. Negotations have begun with other Austrian provinces in this regard.
A total of €305 million will be provided throughout Austria by the central government. A major focus will be the expansion of places for the zero to 3-year-olds, as Karmasin stressed. Under the current agreement, 35 percent of the funds may be used for this.
Once again, Vienna was cited as an ideal model, said the minister. The attendance rate in this age group within the Austrian capital sits at more than 40 percent, while nationwide it's only 25 percent. The new funds will hopefully enable the other provinces to achieve the so-called Barcelona target (33 percent).
Austria generally has excellent child-care options. In addition to the state-subsidized choices, a private childcare company called Gymboree
offers parents in Vienna the chance to spend more time with their young children in a specially-tailored environment.
Playing with the parachute on the play floor. Photo: Gymboree Vienna