The European Union approved the new Barcelona targets for early childhood education and care. The Gezinsbond, a COFACE member organisation, agrees with the focus now also being on accessibility and quality of care. To achieve the goals, however, there is still much to be done and the Gezinsbond will continue to monitor the process closely.
On the 8th of December 2022, the European Council approved the European Commission’s new Barcelona targets for early childhood education and care. The previous Barcelona targets – dating from 2002 – focused mainly on the proportion of children using care services. With the new targets, European member states are now committed to ensuring the equal participation of all children in early childhood education and care. This includes children with healthcare needs, children from vulnerable families, children in neighbourhoods where there are no childcare facilities. And for the first time, the Barcelona targets also mention out-of-school care.
Quality as an objective for out-of-school care
The emphasis is also much more on the quality and affordability of care and education, with the working conditions and training of child supervisors as crucial core conditions. For Flanders, the revised Barcelona targets are a real challenge. Although they are not concrete enough in some areas, and the enforceability is very limited, the bar needs to be raised in Flemish childcare.
Still a lot of work to be done
The objectives contain many elements that are covered in the recently updated position statement on childcare of the Gezinsbond. Especially regarding the accessibility of care for all children regardless of their need for healthcare or family income, the reduction of the child to caretaker ratio, the improvement of the level of education, the working conditions and the remuneration of the child caretakers, Flemish childcare still has a lot of work to do.
While the goals are intended as a recommendation and not an obligation, the Gezinsbond continues to closely monitor the process from average good childcare to good childcare everywhere. In fact, the Gezinsbond was the only users representative to participate in the European Commission’s advisory committee for the new Barcelona targets.
Read the original article from the Gezinsbond here (in Dutch).
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