In Latvia, both the central and local governments are responsible for ensuring ECEC services comply with regulations. Like in many OECD countries, compliance with regulations is monitored through two processes: the registration of new ECEC institutions or individual service providers and external evaluations or inspections (OECD, 2012; MoES, 2015). To register an ECEC institution, a person authorised by the founder of the institution needs to submit an application to the State Education Quality Service (SEQS). The SEQS decides whether to register the institution on the Register of Educational Institutions, based on compliance with relevant regulations.
In addition to formal ECEC institutions, Latvia also has family day carers, commonly referred to as “child-minders”, who are qualified private persons offering child-minding services. They are registered in the Register of Child-Minder Services that is also managed by the SEQS. Registered child-minders are required to meet certain qualifications (Box 2.3) and are supervised by the State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights, as well as several government agencies including local governments, the State Fire and Rescue Service, the Food and Veterinary Service and the Medical Inspection.
Box 2.3. Family day carer (“child-minder”) qualifications and safety requirements in Latvia
On 1 September 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers’ regulation on family day carer registration, referred to as the “child-minder” register and professional activity organisation, came into force, defining the qualification and safety requirements for family day carers. The regulation stipulates that a person who wishes to work as a family day carer needs to have completed a professional education programme of at least 40 hours in order to be registered, unless the person has received secondary or tertiary pedagogical education or obtained a professional qualification as a family day carer.
In addition, a provider of family day care services (legal person, public or local authority) must meet the following requirements: 1) have the State Fire and Rescue Service’s approval that fire safety requirements have been met if the service is provided outside the child’s home; 2) have regular health inspections for persons engaged in the supervision of children; 3) have a license from Food and Veterinary Service, if a full-time service is provided outside the child’s home, for catering of meals for children; 4) meet the working procedure regulations and regulations on protection of safety at work; and 5) ensure fire safety, labour protection, hygiene and first aid.
Source: Cabinet of Ministers (2013), Praslbas bernu uzraudzlbas pakalpojuma sniedzejiem un bernu uzraudzlbas pakalpojuma sniedzeju registresanas kartlba [Regulation on Family Day Carer Registration], Regulation No. 404, adopted 16 July 2013, Riga, http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=258873.
Evaluation of the quality of an ECEC setting is often conducted for external or internal accountability purposes. When quality is evaluated for external accountability, for example by the education inspectorate or other government agency, ECEC settings are understood as an instrument for implementation of family, labour market and education policies on national, regional and local levels (Litjens, 2013).
In Latvia, the SEQS has the right to carry out an investigation based on a complaint from a parent or another state institution. These may lead to the initiation of an administrative violation case. In 2014, 3 out of a total of 31 administrative violation complaints initiated by the SEQS concerned ECEC, all of which led to a prosecution, although they were not initiated by parent complaints. in oECD countries, the responsibility for conducting these external evaluations, often in the form of inspections, varies. There may be a central agency in charge of inspections that may focus on procedural aspects, processes or a combination of both. in ireland and Norway, for example, inspections are combined with interviews with managers and staff (oECD, 2012).
Latvia has no such central agency responsible for evaluating the quality of ECEC institutions. instead, as in many oECD countries, responsibility has been decentralised to municipalities (oECD, 2006, 2012). Approaches to monitoring and evaluating the quality of ECEC institutions thus vary across the country, although municipalities must abide by national laws and regulations (Eurypedia, 2015). Concerns have been raised about the capacity of some of the smaller municipalities to effectively manage and support their ECEC institutions and schools (oECD, 2014b).