With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for pre-school children.
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Our children’s early years matter a great deal for their well-being and personal development and later for their success in education and employment. Research shows how ‘skills beget skills’; how stunting by the age of two is difficult to reverse; how good-quality early childhood education and care services can help children, even in the long term, to overcome difficulties caused by a lack of help at home.
In 2002, EU countries agreed to provide early-childhood education and care services for 30 % of children under the age of 3, and for 90 % of those between 3 years of age and school age. The EU helps countries to improve their services in meeting the diverse needs of young children and their families, emphasising families’ rights to access good-quality early childhood resources and services, such as crèches, kindergartens, benefits, education, jobs, health and housing.
EU funding for improving early childhood services includes projects supported under the European Social Fund. A further €1.22 billion for improving early childhood facilities is available from the European Regional Development Fund. The EU’s Erasmus+ education and training programme assists early childhood teachers’ and carers’ development. A platform called eTwinning helps pre-schools to work together on projects across borders. The Horizon 2020 programme supports research helping to get a better understanding of how to create services that best meet the needs of early-age children and their families.
- EPRS publication on ‘Early childhood education and care in family friendly policies’, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_BRI(2016)582008
- European Commission Directorate for Education and Culture Early Childhood Education and Care policy website, https://ec.europa.eu/info/education/policy-educational-issues/shared-challenges-education-and-training/early-childhood-education_en
- European Structural and Investment Funds data website, https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/