Zagreb Mayor: Textbooks to Stay Free, Price of Kindergarten Care Won’t Rise

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“As regards vulnerable families, local as well as state welfare measures, which have not been used so far because of the stay-at-home parent scheme, will be applied,” Tomašević said at a news conference responding to criticism over the cancellation of the scheme which has cost the city HRK 1.6 billion since its introduction in 2016.

Instead of higher grant for third child, grant for first child to be increased

Children will attend kindergarten, mothers who are now stay-at-home parents will be able to look for a job, Tomašević said, adding that next Tuesday, when the presentation of the city budget for 2022 was scheduled, he would explain the compensatory measures in detail.

New kindergartens will be built, as part of a three-year plan for investments in kindergartens, where in the future, he said, the national pedagogical standard should be complied with.

“We are not thinking about increasing the fee for kindergarten care,” he stressed.

As for criticism from opposition parties in the Zagreb City Assembly over the abolishment of the HRK 54,000 layette grant for the third child, Tomašević said that no savings had been made in the city outlays for grants for newborn children and that the same amount was envisaged for next year as well, around HRK 80 million. However, instead of increasing the grant for the third child, the grant for the first child will go up.

As for criticism from the HDZ party, a coalition partner to the party of former mayor Milan Bandić, Tomašević said that the HDZ branch in Zagreb in 2019 did not support the strategy for the city’s demographic development exactly because of the stay-at-home parent grant scheme, but was now defending it.

He said that the monthly amount paid for stay-at-home parents was around the amount of wages for more than 6,000 kindergarten employees, stressing that no savings had been made there either as the money would be used to expand kindergarten capacity.

Demographic policy in Croatia cannot be pursued only at the local level because it results in depopulation, with families from the provinces moving to cities that have demographic schemes like Zagreb, he said.

He added that he was not worried about possible lawsuits by stay-at-home parents, noting that their rights were not acquired rights based on a law but rather aid based on a decision by the former mayor.

“There are no contracts with stay-at-home parents, I don’t see how they could legally seek compensation by suing the city,” he said.

As far as free textbooks for primary and secondary school students are concerned, there will be no changes next year and the city will provide them free of charge, he said.


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