OECD criticizes Czech Republic for lack of day nurseries

Being the parent of a small child while making one's living at the same time is not an easy thing to do in the Czech Republic, as there is a serious shortage of day nurseries and crèches in this country. Now, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has criticized the Czech Republic for the low number of child care centres in the Czech Republic. According to the OECD, the lack of childcare facilities here could have serious consequences for the careers of women who have children, which could in turn have an impact on the competitive strength of the country.

Since 1990 the number of day nurseries in the Czech Republic has shrunk from 1040 to a mere 52. This is barely enough to take care of one percent of all the children aged up to two and a half years in this country.

As a result, working mothers who don't want to or cannot stay at home with their child often find themselves in a difficult situation. I asked some mothers of small children in Prague what they thought of the childcare situation in this country.

28-year-old woman who is waiting her first child in April: "I think that for single mothers the situation is much more difficult than for me... And then there are women who have successful careers and would like to continue their work and stay in contact with their profession. Such women prefer to go back to work after two or three months and don't want to stay at home for too long. I think that there are not enough day nurseries in the Czech Republic now. The good thing about nurseries is that they are much better now than they were under the Communist regime. The attitude of the teachers or people who work in day nurseries is much better now."

36-year-old mother of four children: "I would have placed my first child in a nursery a few years ago, but I couldn't find any in Kolin. Later I moved to a town in South Bohemia and gave birth to my second baby. But when my son was one year old I again searched in vain for a day nursery. So I had to stay home with him until he was three and put up with the low income I had at that time. A friend of mine who has lived in the U.S. says that many companies enable their employees to use children's corners which make it much easier for people with small children. It's a pity that companies in the Czech Republic don't offer such services, because it would be great if they did."

Unfortunately for this woman, until more firms begin offering childcare on a commercial basis, things don't look like they are going to get much better for mothers with small children. In fact, there may soon be even fewer state-run nurseries as the Czech Ministry of Health, which is in charge of them, wants to continue reducing their number.