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

06 June 2023
Luca and his mother
UNICEF / Adrian Câtu
Luca and his mother are getting ready for a new day of activities at Primo Hub, supported by UNICEF.

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 per cent of parents prioritised more affordable childcare options.

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

Around 27 per cent 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 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 recognises 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.

Notes to Editors

More than 12,300 parents in countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan responded to the survey. The survey was disseminated through Bebbo, a free parenting app about health, nutrition, development and caregiving of children 0 to 6 years. Bebbo was launched by UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office to support parents of young children on their parenting journey. Bebbo is available in 14 countries and languages across Europe and Central Asia, and offers a comprehensive range of resources, tools, and expert advice.

Media contacts

Cătălin Pruteanu
Media Officer
UNICEF Romania
Tel: +40 726 107 799

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