Family and Equal Opportunities increases the financing of the ‘Crecemos’ program to 8.6 million euros

Reconciling work and family life is a priority for the Junta de Castilla y León, as reflected in the Plan Familias -aimed at the 300,000 families under 25 years of age- which brings together the set of aid, resources, programs and regional services to disposition of the Castilian and Leonese families. Conciliation and co-responsibility are its main objectives as they are the most effective responses to promote equality, support the family and stop the decline in birth rates. This was recalled by the Minister for Family and Equal Opportunities, Isabel Blanco, during her visit to the ‘Crecemos’ center in Magaz de Pisuerga, in Palencia.

This Plan pays special attention to families residing in rural areas, “also the result of our commitment to this area, which forces us to make an effort to bring conciliation policies closer to all towns with programs specifically designed for them, such as ‘ We grow’”, explained the minister.

This program is implanted in small rural nuclei where the resources to conciliate are scarcer. These are children’s centers that allow parents to develop their work activity. This is the case of the ‘La casita de Villaverde’ center in Magaz de Pisuerga, which has two program units and where this course will be attended by 19 children between the ages of 0 and 3 from the town itself and its surroundings, allowing parents in the area reconcile their family and work life.

An essential program for conciliation in rural areas that, as Isabel Blanco pointed out, was significantly expanded and reinforced last year and that in the current one “we want it to be used by all the families that need it, so , for ease of use, is free’.

Example of collaboration between administrations

This initiative of the Junta de Castilla y León is developed in collaboration with local entities to promote the creation of care services for children from 0 to 3 years of age in small municipalities of the Community that do not have any public or private resources that provide this type of service and in which the demand is less than 15 places, which “is a magnificent example of collaboration between administrations to achieve common objectives, in which, thanks to the joint work of the Ministry of Family and Equal Opportunities, Provincial Council and city councils, citizens in rural areas can get support for reconciling work and family life”, explained Isabel Blanco. Within the framework of this collaboration, the town councils provide the premises where the program is developed and bear the cost of running the centre; the provincial councils finance 20% of the cost; and the Junta de Castilla y León finances the remaining 80% of the cost.

The president of the Diputación de Palencia, Ángeles Armisén, has stated that the provincial institution is especially sensitive to this program, to families that have children of these ages, between 0 and 3 years old, and to the support of the municipalities that host the centers of ‘Crecemos’, “because establishing the population goes through this type of initiative, to help young people, or parents in general, to be able to develop their life project in rural areas, to have services for the care of their children and to facilitate the reconciliation of work and personal life”.

‘Crecemos’ has become an essential program for conciliation in rural areas, which began in 2004 with its implementation in 28 municipalities of the Community and that in this academic year 2022/2023 is present in 287 -nine municipalities more than in the previous year-, 25 of them in the province of Palencia -one more than last year, in La Pernía, San Salvador de Cantamuda-. In total, 4,305 places have been offered -135 more than in 2021-, 375 of them in the province of Palencia -15 more than in 2021-.

The Minister of Family has highlighted that, in addition to the undeniable help that this program provides in conciliation, “‘Crecemos’ is an element that generates employment in rural areas, practically entirely female, helping to establish the population and avoiding the depopulation of our towns, as evidenced by the fact that during this course more than 400 professionals are in charge of attending to the participants in the program”. Specifically, at the Magaz de Pisuerga center there are three full-time professionals and three other support professionals.

Among the improvements introduced last year in this program, the expansion of the program to all the towns that demanded it and met the program’s requirements stand out; the extension of the opening hours, going from 5 to 8 hours a day; the start-up of a new conciliation service for children between 3 and 6 years old during school holidays in the ‘Crecemos’ centers where there are vacancies; and establish a support figure for all the centers with the financing of a professional in each Provincial Council by the Junta de Castilla y León.

Isabel Blanco explained that all these improvements meant doubling the funding from the Ministry of Family and Equal Opportunities, going from 2.13 million euros to almost 4.1 during the past year. “This course, with total free for families, the Board once again increases its contribution by approximately 4.5 million euros more, which represents a total cost in 2023 of 8.6 million euros”, has pointed out the head of the Family Department, who added that, thanks to this measure, “all the families of the almost 300 municipalities of our Community that have implemented the ‘Crecemos’ program will be able to conciliate for free, also creating employment in those localities fundamentally female.

Other resources to favor conciliation

Another of the resources for conciliation offered by the Junta de Castilla y León within the Plan Familias is the ‘Conciliamos’ program, which offers playful attention to children between 3 and 12 years of age, extending the age to 14 years when they are children with special educational needs, during school vacation periods such as Carnival, Easter, summer and Christmas, thus facilitating reconciliation for families in which both parents work during these working periods but not school. In 2022, the number of participants in ‘Conciliamos’ throughout Castilla y León was almost 15,500 minors in a total of 116 centers. In the province of Palencia, it was held in eight municipalities and reached 747 children -48 at Christmas, 17 at Carnival, 73 at Easter and 609 in summer-.

The Family Council has also promoted the ‘Concilia Bonus’, an economic aid of 750 euros per child under 3 years of age to cover the expenses in conciliation services that parents have had to use -nursery, caregivers…- in families in which both parents work and in single-parent families. This is the second year in which it has been granted and the call is endowed with 10 million euros, 25% more than in 2021, with the aim of reaching more than 13,000 families with children between 0 and 3 years old.

*Provincialized data of the centers and places offered by ‘Crecemos’ this course are attached.

Family and Equal Opportunities increases the financing of the ‘Crecemos’ program to 8.6 million euros