The suburbs of Tartu are becoming more desirable places to call home and the city's growing population has raised demand for municipal services. Local governments in Tartu and Kambja are unable to meet demand, for example, for kindergarten places for the children residing there.
In the municipality of Kambja, there are seven public kindergartens in addition to several private kindergartens and nurseries. Despite this, according to Liis Rosin, the deputy mayor of Kambja, the municipality is in shortage of about 600 kindergarten places.
Rosin explained, "We have 600 children on our waiting list; some of them attend kindergartens in Tartu and private kindergartens."
For instance, Kerli's two-year-old daughter attends a private day care services 15 minutes drive from her Ülenurme home.
Kindergarten places are scars also on the other side of Tartu. In the past five years, the municipality has established 15 new kindergarten groups; however, 30 registered children in the municipality of Tartu are still without a kindergarten place.
"We have dealt with this issue before, and we currently have about 100 children attending private kindergartens and day care," Anne Aleksejev, head of the social and education department for the municipality of Tartu, said.
Tartu and Kambja face additional costs because a child enrolled in one municipality can attend a kindergarten, private daycare or nursery school in another. This year, the municipality of Kambja has set aside €1.3 million and the municipality of Tartu has set aside €650,000 to pay the expense of providing daycare or kindergarten places for their children in other municipalities.
"Because it is the responsibility of the local government to provide a child with a kindergarten place, if a person finds an alternative, whether in a public or private kindergarten, we will pay the cost of the place so that the person has the same cost as with us, i.e. €58," Alekseyev explained.
In order to ease the shortage of childcare places, the municipalities of Tartu and Kambja are recruiting more private nurseries and kindergardens. "We also encourage parents to accept them if they can provide a high-quality service, and private nurseries and kindergartens are currently providing a very high-quality service," Rosin said.
Municipalities also plan to build their own kindergartens. A request for bids is being prepared in the municipality of Kambja for the construction of the Paikeeseratta kindergarten, which will be built in the Rani neighborhood, where there is presently no public kindergarten. Alekseyev said that the municipality of Tartu's intentions are less certain.
"It is yet uncertain what the municipal revenue base funding will be, as well as how we will endure this burden. It is difficult to predict at this stage," Alekseev said.
Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa