In 2019, nearly half (47.1%) of all the children aged less than three years in the EU were cared for exclusively by their parents, while 35.3% were in formal care for at least one hour per week and a quarter were cared for by their grandparents, other relatives or professional childminders for at least one hour per week.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought changes to childcare arrangements in 2020 - how was care for small children in the EU organised before social distancing and closing of care facilities?
The share of children under three years of age cared for by only their parents varied considerably across the EU Member States, from a low of 21.2% in the Netherlands and 22.6% in Portugal, up to over 60.0% in Croatia (60.8%), Slovakia (61.2%) and Latvia (63.8%), reaching its peak of 69.9% in Bulgaria.
Over a third of children under age of three in formal childcare
When children are not cared for exclusively by their parents, they may receive formal childcare, including school-based care as part of compulsory education.
About one third of children (35.3%) in the EU were enrolled in formal childcare for at least one hour per week with 21.5% in formal care for more than 30h per week and 13.8% for less than 30h per week.
Among the EU Member States, Denmark with two-thirds (66.0%) of children receiving at least an hour of formal childcare per week had the highest share, followed by the Netherlands (64.8%), Luxembourg (60.0%) and Spain (57.4%).
At the other end of the scale, Czechia had the lowest share (6.3%), followed by Slovakia (6.6%), Poland (10.2%), Romania (14.1%) and Croatia (15.7%).
A quarter of children in other types of care
Other types of childcare include care by a professional childminder or by grandparents, other household members (excluding parents), other relatives, friends or neighbours. Just over 7% of children under the age of three in the EU were in this type of care for a minimum of 30 hours per week and an additional 18.7% of children for less than 30h per week, for a total of 25.9%.
For more information:
- See the Statistics Explained article Living conditions in Europe - childcare arrangements.
- Formal childcare is defined here as regulated childcare provided away from the child’s home.
- The shares do not add up to exactly 100% because parents might use different types of childcare arrangements.
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