According to the survey carried out on November 30, a total of 44,258 children were covered by the free daycare centres, 1,377 more children than in October, said the Secretary of State for Inclusion at the Commission for Work, Social Security, and Inclusion.

Ana Sofia Antunes added that this data means that there is “quite fast growth and very considerable year-on-year growth” since, in the same month of the previous year, around 24,000 children were covered by this measure.

Of the total of 44,258 children, 51% are in the first and second income brackets and the rest benefit from the new free phase, which covers all children born after September 1, 2021.

According to the official, the current gratuity in the social sector is “working at full speed”, with currently 78,000 vacancies.

“Therefore, with the IPSS [private institutions of social solidarity] we have a potential for growth in this sector, not only in view of the availability of existing classrooms with which we are concluding agreements but also in view of the programs to expand daycare centers that have been approved either with the Pares 2 program or with the PRR [Recovery and Resilience Plan]”.

The Government forecasts that there will be 105,000 vacancies in the social sector by the end of the conclusion of these two programs.

Ana Sofia Antunes recalled that, at the moment, there are around 17,000 children enrolled in private sector daycare centers, with a potential for growth to 23,000 places.

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