The Ministry of the Interior plans to regulate the criteria of the family ticket system, in order to ensure benefits for families with many children. Institutions and companies which do not follow the state criteria need to change the name of the family ticket as a result.
Currently, a family ticket can only be purchased by a family with two adults and two to three children, in many cultural and sports institutions. A larger household with fourth and fifth child has to buy an additional full-price ticket.
Gerli Lehe, an adviser to the Department of Population and Family Policy, said the new system will be helpful for the ticket sellers to check if a group made up of many children is in fact the one family.
Lehe explained: "One of the options is where a family with many children will start receiving a discount on the basis of an ID card. There is a possibility that by validating the parent's ID card, the ticket seller can see they are the parent of a family with many children and the data of children can be seen there as well. There's always an option to use the mobile application and show their data on the eesti.ee website."
The number of children on a family ticket is limited by a number of Tallinn public swimming centers in order to avoid giving a discount to a group where one of the children in the family can be a neighbor's child, for instance. The Estonian Association of Large Families (Eesti Lasterikaste Perede Liit) created a (pre-)paid Family Card last year in order to solve the discrepancy hitting genuinely large families. This means the families with at least three children receive a discount at the institutions that have joined the card system.
Liina Nurmine, the head of the visitor area of the Estonian Road Museum (Maanteemuuseum), said the new card system would be a better and more convenient replacement for a family card.
Nurmine added: "We already offer the best and better price for the families with many children - the price will be calculated when one of the family members shows the family card at the till. Some people may not like the idea that they have to pay for it. If we look at how many good offers the families get with the card, then the purchase is not that huge - I have three children and I have used the card too. If they come up with a better system, then the Road Museum will definitely join it. If the system will be more convenient and will not use any cards, then we will accept it."
The ministry has started negotiations with the company to combine the two projects. The state does not make it mandatory for the authorities to offer a new type of ticket. Those companies and institutions that do not want to join the new system will have to rename their family ticket.
Lehe said: "If they do not rename their family ticket, then the family ticket should apply to the families with many children. Otherwise, they should find another name for it. Personally, I believe there is no need to do that as there are not many large families with over three children in Estonia. It would not bring any economic damage to our state."
According to Lehe, the new regulation would affect 68,000 children. This would not allow an advantage for the honeycomb model families where both parents have two children from a previous relationship.
There are also institutions where it does not matter whether it is a large family or children from several families.
Pilvi Kolk, a member of the board of the AHHAA Science Center, said: "When two women of the same age turn up with eight children, it is not our business to ask if they are their own children or if they are friends' or family's kids. If the children get their experience and the parents have the inclination to come and to say that 'this is our family', then it's another matter."
Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein