Starting 15 February 2016, eligible families can sign up for the preschool food coupons, as beneficiaries of Law No. 248/2015, also known as the Fiecare Copil in Grădiniță law, if they bring their children to gradinita every day.
Law 248/2015 encourages the regular attendance of 3-6-year-old children in grădiniță by granting €11 per month in food coupons (conditional on the child’s daily attendance in preschool) to households where the monthly income is under 284 lei (€63) per family member.
The passage of the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law was a major step forward for Romanian education and social equity at the grassroots level.
With over 60% of Romania’s poorest children receiving no formal education before age 6 or 7, the government’s funding of the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță program opens the doors of early education to the children in greatest need of it. The legislation reflects the government’s recognition that early education is crucial to giving children of largely illiterate parents the tools to stick with school; that staying in school is crucial to achieving basic job skills required in today’s market; and that only participation in the job market will give these children a fighting chance to work their way out of poverty and become active contributors to their communities and Romanian society
This national program adopted the central mechanism of OvidiuRo’s FCG Pilot Program which was designed for children in impoverished rural areas and financed from private donations.
In the national FCG program, the parent incentive component is covered from the state budget – around €12 million allocated for 2016, while the responsibility for effectively implementing the program rests with mayors and school directors.
The Fiecare Copil in Grădiniță (FCG) Law comes as an important element of Romania’s efforts to meet European Commission objectives of reducing school abandonment, poverty and inequity. In 2014 the official school dropout rate had risen to over 18%. It is estimated that presently only one in three poor children benefit from any formal early education, despite the fact that over 80% of all Romanian children do attend at least one year of preschool.
“Law 248/2015 establishes the legal framework for inclusive preschool education in Romania, but the program’s success depends on local deployment. It is essential that communities actively recruit and genuinely welcome all children to preschool and then strictly enforce the daily attendance requirement. The local team’s capacity to collaborate and find solutions to whatever snags come up is key,” declared OvidiuRo’s cofounder, Maria Gheorghiu.
The Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) pilot program cited as a model by both The Economist and the World Bank, was launched in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education in 2010 and was largely funded by the Alex Fund and the Romanian corporate sector. Between 2010-2015, over 6,000 children in 43 rural communities benefited from early education and better nutrition through FCG.