Kindergartens drawing upon HRK 300 million from ESF for implementation of two-shift workdays



Ronald Goršić / CROPIX

HRK 300-million in grants from the European Social Fund should make the life of parents working in two shifts much easier

In early September, some ten Croatian kindergartens will start organising work in two shifts, and this practice will be expanded to some 70 kindergartens by end of the year.

These figures stem from the data on implementation of the project of Improving Services for Children in Pre-School and Early Education, which has received a total of HRK 300 million in funds from the European Social Fund. The ministries of Labour, Demographics and Education published the call for applications in March.

The main goal is to help improve the work-life balance of parents by introducing the afternoon shift,which would meet the needs of parents working in the afternoon, and to ensure sufficient staff and adequate conditions for operating in two shifts.

Open until 9pm

The call was temporarily suspended in June, as the value of submitted project proposals reached 105 % of the total available grant amount.

 - Some 70 kindergartens from all over Croatia applied. Two Decisions on financing were made in July, with the total value of HRK 36.5 million for ten kindergartens in Tribunj, Pirovac, Vrgorac, Gradac, Gornji Kneginac, Kastav, Solin and a Montessori Kindergarten in Split. The Decision on financing another 20 kindergartens worth HRK 103 million will be signed in early September, and no later than in early October the fourth financial decision is expected, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour Katarina Ivanković Knezović said.

According to a poll taken by Jutarnji list, the kindergartens which got the approval in July will start with the shift work no later than in mid-September. According to Ivanković Knezović, others should follow suit by end of the year, although there are still steps to be taken – from changing bylaws to employing kindergarten teachers and experts. The exact closing time for participating kindergartens is not defined in the project, and will be decided by local government units.

Pčelica kindergarten from Vrgorac, which received a HRK 5.7-million grant, will start with shift work on 15 September. It will be open until 9pm all year round, without a summer break.

- We are changing bylaws, announcing vacancies and initiating public procurement processes. We will hire 14 new employees – three with temporary contracts, seven kindergarten teachers, a speech therapist and three assistant workers, said Mayor of Vrgorac Ante Pranić. There are 176 children in the kindergarten, and the parents of 20 of them preliminary said that they would welcome the afternoon shift.

Great interest

- I am convinced that the interest will be even greater once the project comes to life, and parents realise that this is a permanent solution they can rely on. Working in two shifts is very important for us here, primarily because of large companies such as Pivac meat industry, where employees work in three shifts, which has created problems for them in terms of childcare, the Mayor said.

- The same problem occurs when there farming activates intensify during the year, he said, and added that the town is investing HRK 10 million in its pre-school services – constructing a new kindergarten, improving the energy efficiency of the existing one, building a new playground, and buying the equipment necessary for shift work.

HRK 1.7 million has also been approved for Žižula, a private kindergarten in Tribunj, with which the municipality has been cooperating since 2009. The kindergarten will start with shift work on 1 September.

Seasonal help

- There are 55 to 60 children in the kindergarten, and one fifth of parents says they need our services in the afternoon as they work in shifts. The greatest demand for this service is during the tourist season. We will hire one more teacher and a psychologist, and children will also have an opportunity to learn English, dance and play sports. These activities will be free of charge for parents, who will only have to pay regular monthly fee of HRK 575 to HRK 600, Head of Municipality Marko Grubelić said.  

The afternoon shift will be flexible and parents will be able to bring their child at 11 am, or whenever it suits them; the afternoon shift finishes at 8pm. In line with pedagogical standards, children will not be able to spend more than 10 hours in the kindergarten, which is true for all kindergartens.

Montessori kindergarten

In July, the Split-based Mali cvijetak kindergarten got HRK 2.8 million for the 2-shift work.

- We will begin on 1 September, the best way we know how. We will hire four more teachers, and we will be open until 8pm. There are more and more parents interested in this service - Elizabeta Rakidžija, the founder of this kindergarten, says.  

Split is the city with the greatest number of applied kindergartens, and the total grant approved is the highest here. This is the reason why the new decision on financing, scheduled for 3 September, will most likely be signed in Split. This decision will grant city-owned kindergartens Radost HRK 13 million, Cvit Mediterana the same amount, Čarobni pianino HRK 14.8 million, Disneyland 3.1 million... As many as 60 kindergarten teachers will be employed in Split alone.

Along with Split kindergartens, with the latest decision approval will be granted to kindergartens in Bibinje, Pregrada, Velika, Čazma, Metković, Đurđevaca, Trogir, Nova Vas, Prelog, Odra, Ludbreg, Čabar i Čakovec.