Rodinná politika a formální a neformální péče o předškolní děti ve vybraných státech Evropy
Family policy and formal and informal care for preschool-age children in selected European countries
The article focuses on the use of childcare for preschool-age children in 13 European countries with different models of maternal employment. Employing a comparative approach it relates care arrangements to family policy measures. Childcare policies and practices in post-communist countries (the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) are compared in a wider European context and specifically to various countries representing the principal types of welfare state and family policy strategies in Europe (the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, and Sweden). The article focuses on parental leave schemes, parental employment, and formal childcare and takes into account informal childcare, which in many countries is crucial to achieving a work-life balance. The authors’ findings reveal that the use of informal childcare is not directly related to either the length of paid parental leave or maternal employment. Informal childcare, which in most cases is provided by grandparents, is used on a weekly basis for at least thirty per cent of preschool-age children in all the post-communist countries studied except Bulgaria. However, similarly high levels of informal childcare were also found in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Austria. Gendered moral rationalities based on cultural norms play an important role in division of childcare in each European state.