Relais Accueil Petite Enfance is an Early Childcare Service Point that aims to lift barriers to employment for parents and ensure social inclusion through a flexible and responsive approach to childcare.
In 2011, the city of Nantes set up a single service point to manage family requests for early childcare and identify the most suitable childcare services for each family. All requests for places in early childcare facilities are now processed through this single point. If a place is not available, the parent is helped to find an alternative solution for childcare. Since 2013, this service point also includes childcare services not managed directly by the city.
The Early Childcare Service Point is at the cross-roads of three public policies in Nantes: early childhood, social protection and employment. The service targets families receiving income-support benefits, where the parent(s) is seeking employment and needs suitable childcare in order to find or keep a job. It particularly helps single mothers re-enter employment, education or training, by offering them a flexible and easy-to-access childcare service over an extensive period for children from 10 weeks up to three years old.
As part of the service, the city directly manages 24 multi-purpose childcare centres, each varying in capacity and in facilities offered, including long-term, short-term, flexible and emergency childcare. For example, centres offering emergency childcare can take children in at very short notice to cover an unforeseen event, such as a job interview or unexpected work obligations.
For Nantes, the involvement of a large number of stakeholders in the project was crucial in developing a solution adapted to the needs of each individual family. Moreover, coordination between early childhood and social workers is one of the keys to the success of this project.
Initially developed in Nantes Nord by the municipality, it is currently implemented throughout the city of Nantes. The cities of Barcelona and Lisbon are exploring how to replicate this good practice in their own cities.
Relais Accueil Petite Enfance was identified as a successful social innovation during a recent mapping done by the cities of Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rotterdam and Stockholm to identify and catalyse the transfer of successful innovations among European cities in the Accelerating Change for Social Inclusion project. The project is led by UpSocial and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and La Caixa Foundation, with the collaboration of EUROCITIES.