In the school year 2016/17, 13,147 social and educational services for the early childhood were registered in the national territory.
Authorized places amounted to about 354 thousand, with a slight majority of the public ones. The available places covered 24% of children under 3 – a parameter still below the one set by the European Union (33%) to support the work-life balance and to encourage the increase in women’s participation in the labour market.
Services availability was very heterogeneous among regions, with places ranging from a minimum of 7.6% of potential users in Campania to a maximum of 44.7% in Valle D’Aosta. Smaller municipalities were penalized in terms of services in comparison with the provincial capitals.
Also municipalities’ average expenditure to manage the services differed widely between regions, ranging from a minimum of 88 euros a year for a child residing in Calabria to a maximum of 2,209 euros a year in the Autonomous Province of Trento. The decline in children under 3 who benefited of municipal nurseries (or financed by the municipalities) has emerged since the school year 2011/12. Moreover, public resources have been reduced since 2012.
In the three-year period 2014-2016 both the users served and municipalities’ expenditure remained substantially stable. The decline mainly concerned directly managed municipal services, whereas the number of managements entrusted to private entities was increasing, with significantly lower average costs for municipalities.