EXPAT VOICES: Childcare in Czechia is 'outrageously expensive and inaccessible'

We recently asked our readers about their experience with childcare in Czechia, and the responses show the scale of the country's childcare crisis.

Kathrin Yaromich

Written by Kathrin Yaromich Published on 01.06.2022 13:01:00 (updated on 31.07.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

In index after index, Prague ranks as one of Europe's and the world's best places for raising a family. The most recent study analyzed 130 European cities in the areas of education, health and safety, and leisure and lifestyle with the Czech capital coming out in at number 5.

The data cited the city's teacher-to-student ratios, educational attractions and recreational spaces, healthcare accessibility, length of maternity leave, air quality, and cost of living, as making it a great place to raise children.  

We recently polled Prague's expat community on one important aspect of family life and their experience of it in Czechia: childcare. In contrast to the study findings, the Prague expat community almost unanimously finds the inaccessibility of childcare facilities to be a serious barrier to comfortable family life in Prague, with some even consider relocating due to the lack of childcare.

The results of our survey with 73 respondents reveal that 82 percent are dissatisfied with childcare arrangements in the Czech Republic, 12.5 percent are satisfied, and the rest are neutral.

While some of those surveyed mention the language barrier and the lack of family support as major problems for expats when it comes to childcare, some of the main issues facing foreigners living in the Czech Republic, are the same ones that Czechs face when looking for childcare solutions in Czechia.

Here's what you had to say (note: responses have been edited for length and clarity).

Expat voices on childcare in Czechia

Childcare is increasingly cost prohibitive

"They [the government]...talks about great parental allowance, but it is just CZK 300,000...30k month, the minimum to live. After that, we have to work. But how? Finding a nursery is really difficult and SUPER expensive. We don't have relatives here, to assist with childcare. We end up working [just] to pay the bills."

We had to pick a nursery that’s mainly taught in Czech, pedagogy is ok, location as well. Not our ideal but still we are paying around EUR 550. We are considering moving to another EU country due to our kids' education cost."

"Childcare is a huge challenge! There are no state kindergartens for children below 3 (or if they exist, there is no centralized information about those). For children below 1, there are even no private facilities. Maternity leave is 28 weeks (6 months) and then you either go back to work and hire an expensive nanny or you stay at home and leave from parental benefit. Parental benefit is 10% of my regular salary, which will not pay my mortgage."

Silver lining: In January or February, parents can collect "potvrzení" confirmation for their "Školkovné" (tax rebate) contribution to the kindergarten fee for the previous year. Most state schools charge around 1,000 CZK per month so the deductible of CZK 16,200 for children under 5 covers most of the cost. This amount can also be applied to certain private kindergartens (even if it may cover just a few months from the whole year's tuition).

Lack of childcare makes it difficult to return to work

"It is close to impossible to return to work [when your child is] around 1 year of age. Public nurseries are so rare and only accept babies from 18 months the earliest (on paper, in reality from 2 years of age) while private nurseries are booked months in advance and are very expensive."

My opinion is that if we already pay for the educational system of our children, there need to be enough places for children ensured from whatever age onwards. And I think once this is resolved we'll also shorten the average maternity leave in CZ and with that connected wage gap and career prosperity of female employees."

"Getting into Mateřská škola for less than 3 years old is almost impossible based on the school's acceptance criteria. It feels like the only option available is for one parent to stay home and live on almost a single income. It feels kinda discriminatory to push parents (mostly women) to stay at home. Most families decide to have another kid to be able to take care of their first while receiving parental money for the other."

Silver lining: Although Czechia has one of the lowest accessibility rates of childcare facilities for small children in the EU, some positive changes may come soon. The government has pledged to reintroduce nurseries in the Czech Republic, which will completely replace children's groups, as of September 2024. 

Social pressure is widespread in Czech society

"In my family, we've decided my husband will go on maternity leave as this is better for us financially. Whoever hears about it asks, "Martin, does it pay off for you to stay on maternity leave"? Do you know how many people asked me that question? Of course, nobody. I am supposed to earn less than men and I am supposed to stay on parental leave as the parental benefit is considered huge money in the Czech Republic. Czechs, do you see that the gender pay gap is huge and that's strongly connected to the lack of childcare? Women earn less because they stay many years with children, and then stay many years with children because they earn less. It's a cycle that needs to be broken."

[In Czechia] It's considered strange to work even if your child is already 2 years old. Maybe half-time work is accepted, but no way someone working full time."

"I pay an outrageous amount of money for my 18-month-old to go to a nursery 9h/week, while I work to make enough money to pay for the nursery. I am not considered an essential worker because I only work a few hours, and other mothers think that I somehow "neglect" my child by sending him to the nursery."

Silver lining: There is growing awareness that raising a family isn’t a woman’s responsibility alone. Paid paternity leave doubled at the start of 2022 to 14 days from the previous seven days, with more flexibility on when fathers can take paternity leave (anytime within the first six weeks following birth).

If you have children under 5, which childcare arrangement do you use?

State kindergarten 30 %
Private kindergarten 56 %
Full-time nanny 6 %
Part-time sitter 8 %
54 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open
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