The Report on National Education and Support Services for young mothers in Project partner countries
The adolescent fertility increasingly becomes the global concern not only due to the higher risk of mother’s and infant’s health state but generally corresponds to the preclusion of continuous social, economic as well as demographic barriers. Early initiation of childbearing, naturally, means truncated education, lower future family income. Therefore, it is highly relevant to promote the importance of education to each dropped out girl and encourage re-entering the education system seeking to widen her opportunities of a brighter future. Particularly, the project BYMBE overlaps 6 European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, and aims to assure that in each state at least 8 (12 participating in the piloting from each country) young mothers dropped out of the educational system will re-enter it.
The report provides a background of education systems and child care provision as well as support services in Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, and specifies the issue of young mothers aged from 15 to 25 years who dropped out of the system. It also describes challenges and opportunities of young mothers to re-enter education system, financial costs and support systems presenting some good practices in project partner countries.
It shows up national differences but at the same time gives a holistic overview over the partners’ countries.
Child care facilities and funding systems for child care in project partner countries are presented, as well related opportunities and supporting organisations are described. Quality of child care system is considered high if available, free and friendly for low income families.
This report is based on National Project partner reports from Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, and Spain.
The research, carried during the implementation of the project BYMBE in 6 European countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania and Spain revealed that young women dropped out from education system face such challenges when striving to enter education system:
The very first challenge that young mothers face when re-entering education system and which is emphasized by most of the countries is the financial shortage. The lack of governmental financial support programmes for mothers dropped out of educational system, as well absence of specified counselling institutions targeting to provide the best opportunities in re-entering process are mainly most significant barriers. Moreover, the inabilities to reconcile the time-tables of childcare, work and studying also struggles re-entering to education system. The latter problem is highly dependent on the childcare facilities working hours, suggested methods of schooling whether in formal or non-formal education.
Most important thing is to encourage young mothers to reconcile childrearing and education, to explain the opportunities and display most favourable chances for future.
There are some special trainings for young mothers in Ireland and Spain, which are outlined in the report as good practices. However, the rest of the analysed countries, including Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Italy do not present any specialized programmes for young mothers to simplify their reconciliation of childcare and education.
Another crucial support for young unexperienced mothers is child care facilities. The research show that very good practices start in some countries with provision of child minders or child care facilities directly in the work place or study place of the parents. It creates a win-win-situation for all and could be taken into account as an example of best practice to be applied.
Also, promotion and development of a network of a Child day care centres for primary school students meets young mothers’ needs perfectly and it would be a good question for considerations in BYMBE project and national child care development. Summarizing and comparing situation in all partner countries it could be said that:
- All countries still have not sufficient supply of formal and affordable childcare services for the youngest children, however all countries guaranty reduction of fees or costs’ reimbursement for child care facilities, based on family income level.
- Countries’ efforts to implement a Legal entitlement to ECEC, i.e. assurance of universal free access to child care facilities for all children from a very young age shall be a promising aspiration.
- Spain looks to be a leader among project partner countries with regard of provision and involvement of up to 3 years of age children to formal arrangements of child care.
- Italy looks to be most far from European dimensions in child care with regard of provisions of free or refunded formal child care. Coverage of nurseries is small in particular and falls far short of meeting the demand of working parents.
- Ireland faces the issue of high costs for child care however support system is also being developed and the age for free care for all children is being lowered recently.
Therefore, BYMBE project and its scope of action will definitely be the favourable path for bringing young mothers back to education system with supporting them by counselling and guidance in finding reasonable, qualitative and free of charge child care facilities.