Affordable childcare and quality preschool top priorities among parents across 13 countries in Europe and Central Asia - new UNICEF survey

Ahead of UNICEF’s Parenting Month celebrated annually in June, new survey findings support UNICEF’s call for family friendly policies

01 June 2023
Artur playing a game with his older son through Bebbo application.

GENEVA, 1 June 2023 – Affordable childcare and quality preschool are the top priorities among parents in 13 countries in Europe and Central Asia, according to survey findings published today by UNICEF ahead of Parenting Month, celebrated annually in June.

 The survey asked parents to identify which types of government, business, and community-led family support they would deem as the most important. The results found that 26 per cent of parents identified quality preschool as the most important government provision to support families and 25 percent of parents prioritized more affordable childcare options.

The survey findings vary among countries. For example, 60 percent of respondents in North Macedonia reported they would prioritize extended paid parental leave as the most valuable support, compared to only 15 percent in Moldova. Affordable childcare is the biggest priority for most respondents in Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania.

 Around 27 percent of parents said they would want businesses to offer the ability to work remotely, and 26 per cent of parents prioritised paid leave in case of child illness. A flexible work schedule was the third most sought-after provision.

At the community level, 43 per cent of parents surveyed prioritised safe spaces for children to play and 42 per cent of parents prioritised affordable housing for families. In Albania, Kosovo*[1]and North Macedonia, around three-quarters of parents prioritise safe spaces for children to play, compared to 30 per cent in Kyrgyzstan and 14 per cent in Serbia. 

The survey results were released to coincide with the start of UNICEF’s Parenting Month, an annual month-long celebration of parents worldwide. UNICEF acknowledges and celebrates parents for their important role in shaping their children's lives and calls for better support for parents including mental health services and family friendly policies.

 "Parents hold the greatest stake in their children’s growth and development, shaping their happiness, health, well-being, and ultimately who they will become as adults. It is a collective responsibility of governments, businesses and communities to ensure that parents can access support services that enable them to create the best possible environment for their children to grow and develop,” said Phillippe Cori, UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Director a.i.

 UNICEF calls for family-friendly policies including universal early childhood education and care, child benefits, adequate parental leave of at least six months, mental health support and universal access to parenting support programmes. UNICEF urges for tailored support for parents with complex family needs such as those living in poverty, refugees, parents of children with disabilities, and those living in troubled homes.

UNICEF recognizes the role businesses play in creating family-friendly working environments and calls for the provision of flexible working options, financial support such as paid time off for parents caring for sick children, and partnering with governments to integrate parenting support programmes into policy.

A mother smiling to her little daughter

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