Despite pressure for places around 20,000 families have pulled their toddlers out of nurseries across the Madrid area so to avoid paying the spiraling costs, new figures revealed on Monday.
The data made public by the Board of Representatives for Infant Education and the association ‘AMEIGI’ has revealed how the rise in costs has changed the priorities for parents when it comes to early years education.
"My husband works, but I'm unemployed. We cannot survive on his salary so I will take care of my daughter," Tania, a 42-year-old mother, who told Spanish daily 20 minutes that she is taking her daughter out of nursery that costs €275 a month.
"I can clean a house four days a week for €250, but I will have to take the child with me and if I get a job interview, I'll have to take her too," she said.
When authorities opened the application process in May 2012 for the 44,000 state funded nursery places at the 463 infant schools across the region they were bombarded by requests and were left with a 20,000-strong waiting list .
However, at that point parents had no idea how much they would have to shell out to pay for one of the coveted places.
When the prices were announced in June last year it was revealed nursery fees had risen by as much as 175 percent for some families, putting the average cost of a place at nursery between €180 and €225 a month.
If parents wanted the child to be given lunch then they would have to hand over on average another €100.
The cost had a dramatic impact on families with around 35 percent deciding to reject the offer of a place at a nursery school and another 15 percent had to pull their children out once the term had started because they could not afford the costs, AMEIGI claims.
“We lost a lot through drop outs,” one director of a school in Madrid told Spanish online newspaper 20 Minutes. “When I spoke to the parents they just told me they could not afford to pay the monthly charges.”
The number of people on waiting lists has reportedly been halved in some areas. Organizations also claim that a drop in state aid and scholarships for poorer families has added to the reasons why more and parents are keeping the children at home.