l Korean government has increased financial support for early childhood education and care. Expanded public investment needs to be examined in terms of its efficacy and appropriateness. However, estimating the expenditure for both sectors as a whole has been a challenge due to the split system of education and care. The purpose of this study was to examine the government’s overall expenditure on kindergartens and childcare centers.
l Data was collected through e-mail surveys. Two finance officers from each of the 17 local governments (one in charge of education sector and the other in charge of childcare sector) responded to the survey (n=34). Information on each local government’s funding allocations (e.g., support items and amounts) on both kindergartens and childcare centers was examined.
Public expenditure on kindergartens
l Funding was allocated to the following five areas: tuition, human resources, educational activities, kindergarten administration and management, and improving educational environments
- Tuition (support for students): Tuition support included enrolled students’ tuition (100% support) and afterschool programs (62% of children received government support), including tiered support for lunch and snacks.
- Human resources (support for teachers): Public kindergarten teachers’ salary was fully supported (100%). Support for private kindergarten teachers was provided in the form of monthly allowance (e.g., homeroom teacher allowance, benefit allowance, and teacher allowance). Total amount of this support for private teachers ranged from 460,000 to 510,000 won (about $460-510), which varied by provinces/municipalities.
- Educational activities (support for institutions): Support items included labor expenses (for support staff), teaching materials and instruments, educational program operation, kindergarten assessment, reading education, specialized program operation, and ECEC collaborative network.
- Administration and Educational Environment: For the improvement of program operation and educational environment, more than 140 billion won a year (about $140 million) was provided to public kindergartens, and for 20 billion won (about $20 million) to private kindergartens.
Public expenditure on childcare centers:
l Funding was allocated to the following three areas: childcare, human resources, and facility improvement
- Child care: Support items included infant/toddler care expense (age 0-2), tuition for childcare centers (for children ages 3-5), childcare fee (tiered support) for extended care or children from low income families, and afterschool activities for elementary school students who use child care services.
- Human resources: Support items included funding to institutions and to individual teachers. Institutions (e.g., public/non-profit childcare centers and infant/toddler care facilities) received general labor cost support for teachers. Individual teachers received Nuri Curriculum teacher allowance (300,000 won, about $300), infant/toddler care staff allowance (100,000 won, about $100), working condition improvement allowance (120,000 won, about $120), and long-term service allowance (30,000-50,000 won, about $30-50) in some regions.
- Facility improvement: Support items included construction and maintenance fee for public/non-profit facilities (300,000 won, about $300), equipment and book purchase, and heating and cooling cost. For private childcare centers, public-funded centers received support for its operating cost (8,750,000 won, about $8,750); facilities that passed evaluation approval received environment improvement cost support. Private facilities received support for teaching materials and instruments (500,000-1,200,000 won, about $500-$1,200), and facilities in rural areas received support for vehicle operation. Since 2012, Nuri Curriculum support has been provided (70,000 won per a child).
Comparison of Financial Supports for Kindergartens and Childcare Centers
l Budget: While support for kindergartens focus on educational activities, support for childcare centers focused on functional operation of the programs
l Payment methods of wages: Public kindergartens and public childcare centers use different methods of payment when paying wages. While 100% of wages of public kindergarten teachers are supported by government (i.e., National Treasury), only 30-80% of wages of public childcare center teachers are supported by central and local governments, and the rest was covered using childcare center operating costs.
l Lunch and snack fees: Childcare center tuition covers lunch and snacks as well as all other full-day care services provided by childcare centers, whereas kindergarten tuition does not.
l Wages of support staffs: Almost the same amounts of subsidies were provided to kindergartens regardless of auspices, whereas limited supports were provided to childcare centers in some provinces, mainly focusing on supporting government-funded centers.
l Focus on improving the quality of childcare centers by clearly identifying specific support items (e.g., target areas that need improvement and attention)
l Strengthen the wage subsidies for support staffs to enhance quality of childcare.
l Support 100% of the wages of public childcare center teachers to stabilize the operation of childcare centers so that they can focus on the quality and content of childcare, rather than putting efforts in securing labor cost.
l Increase the amount of teacher allowance for private and home childcare centers so that it aligns with that of kindergartens, especially for the teachers whose educational qualifications are equivalent to those of public kindergarten teachers and who implement the same national common curriculum (i.e., Nuri Curriculum).
l Maintain consistency in terms of supporting lunch and snack fees for kindergartens and childcare centers: currently, lunch and snack fees are excluded from kindergarten tuition supports.
l Research on the level of government supports for various types of services (e.g., afterschool programs) provided through ECEC programs and conduct comprehensive assessments.
Table Of Contents
Ⅱ. 유치원과 어린이집 재정 지원 정책
Ⅲ. 유치원과 어린이집 재정 지원 현황
Ⅳ. 유치원과 어린이집 재정 지원 간 비교 제언