Recommendation 4: Review the governance andfinancing arrangements of ECEC
During the last two decades Latvia has decentralised social services and reformed its administrative structure, among others, with the aim of ensuring high-quality provision of services. Despite these efforts some municipalities, especially the smaller ones, lack the capacity and resources to deliver on this aim. This is particularly an issue for ECEC services for children under five, where central government does not fund the salaries of ECEC staff.
Latvia should therefore review the current governance and funding arrangements for ECEC. in particular it should use funding to promote the integration of children with special education needs in regular ECEC institutions. in addition, it should ensure that ECEC staff working in poorer municipalities have equal access to quality professional development opportunities. This could be done through various means including discretionary funding or targeted programmes. The proposed measures to monitor system and service quality (Recommendation 3) are also important for strengthening public accountability and ensuring children’s rights to
equal quality ECEC.
In addition, the revision of the local government equalisation fund is essential to diminishing disparities in funding capacity between municipalities. Combined with a more targeted approach to the provision of child and family benefits, as already recommended by the OECD (OECD, 2015a), family and child poverty could be reduced, and access to ECEC for children from the poorest families enhanced. Further, Latvia should consider giving municipalities incentives to collaborate to enhance their capacity, or even amalgamate with other municipalities, which apart from improving the quality and equity of ECEC services could bring efficiency savings.