What surface does a little one need to develop, play, frolic? At the age of the first steps, the question is not anecdotal, say pediatricians and child psychiatrists. It opposes, these days, the government and the early childhood sector, while the reform of nurseries is about to be successful. An ordinance is expected by the end of May and several decrees are ready.
One of the measurements must relate to the minimum area per child. The idea? Simplify complex standards, which hold back very courted private managers at a time of the scarcity of cradles. But today, the rules are difficult to read, each PMI enacting its own standards, from the height of the door handles to the number of square meters per child, precisely.
The fear of standardization from below
Establishing national criteria therefore seems to make good sense. However, the sector fears a standardization from below. “Currently, there are no general rules but a consensus exists to estimate that it takes 7 m2 per child “, begins Émilie Philippe, spokesperson for the No Babies movement, raised against the reform. The new text takes up this threshold, but adds an exception to it. In densely populated areas it will be possible to descend to 5.5 m2 per child, provided “To have an outdoor space or a motor skills area of 20 m2 more “, specifies the secretariat for children and families. “What surface are we talking about? asks Émilie Philippe. In our opinion, it is necessary to count the spaces of change or nap because they are not spaces of plays. “
That’s not all. Marie Lambert-Muyard, from Uniopss (National Interfederal Union of Private Health and Social Works and Organizations), puts forward another problem: “By retaining the criterion of population density, the government risks penalizing children who live in neighborhoods with towers and bars. In short, poor and overcrowded neighborhoods where the difficulties are already concentrated ”. Especially, she adds, that “This area restriction could be added to other measures, such as increased use of redundant reception: there will therefore be more children in less space. ” Quality nurseries in priority neighborhoods were, however, a flagship measure of the Poverty Plan.
“Touching per square meter is very complicated”
“Touching per square meter is very complicated, emphasizes Marie Pecot, director of the early childhood center at ASFAD, an association of the social sector in Rennes. In the two nurseries that I oversee, which receive children from fragile families, we have favored large premises and the hiring of a psychomotor therapist, because these little ones need it more than the others. ” In fact, some spend a lot of time on screen at home, to overcome the constraints of small apartments.
Sophie Romaire and Anne-Cécile Barrau share this observation. They run the social-vocation nurseries for Apprentis d’Auteuil, in Nantes and Toulouse. “The question of square meters is essential, starts first. I gave up welcoming babies for lack of space, because the older ones jostled them. They have to move, explore: I couldn’t ask 2 year olds to stop running! “” Imagine that in the evening we return to families children who have not moved enough during the day…, adds Anne-Cécile Barrau, in Toulouse. We have an important role in preventing and supporting parenthood. “
The risk, according to these three guidelines: that the quality principles set out in the “National Charter for the Reception of Young Children” of the Secretary of State for Children and Families, are rendered meaningless by these concrete measures.