Critical shortage of nursery spots due to pandemic regulations

In Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, it was never easy to find a spot in a nursery, but the situation worsened due to the pandemic situation; in the last year, state nurseries could function only with 50 percent capacity. Because of this, many were forced to enroll their kids in private institutions, where the waiting lists have become just as long as at state-run nurseries and many have been left without a spot. Parents feel that no one cares about this situation; while there are festivals held and masses gather in shopping malls, nurseries are still under strict regulations. The city is thus not considered very family-friendly by parents.

According to Vice-Mayor Emes Oláh, the local government is trying to increase the number of spaces in nurseries and has also introduced a nanny bonus to help families pay for help.

Yet another issue is that the online system ended up placing children at nurseries that were the farthest away from where they lived, meaning families have to use multiple buses to get there.

It is simply not worth it for a mother to return to work

For those who don’t get a space in a state nursery and do find a spot at a private one, the latter are very expensive. Grandparents of Hungarian couples mostly live in other regions of the country, so their help is not an option. To pay a nanny costs almost as much as a parent’s entire salary, so it is simply not worth it for a mother to go back to work. “I cannot let my kid be raised by someone else with my salary. The whole situation is extremely unpleasant,” says one of the mothers.

“Kolozsvár is a magnet city, where many people have moved in the last decade, from every point of the country. The local government is making a great effort to offer as many nursery spaces as possible,” Emese Oláh told maszol.ro news portal. “We’ve tripled the number of nursery spaces since 2013 because we are aware that many young families have moved into the metropolitan region of the city,” she added. For example, in Szászfenes/Florești there are 60,000 inhabitants and 100 spaces in the local nurseries.

The regulations related to the pandemic are not under local jurisdiction; the laws are made in Bucharest. There is also no information about the situation for this autumn, but because of the fourth wave of the pandemic, spaces will probably not be increased. However, families who did not get a spot in a nursery will be able to apply for the nanny bonus paid for by the local government.

Featured photo: joyfulstarnursery.co

Author: Blanka Székely