Whilst the first results of the recent census conducted in Croatia revealed how the population in the country is shrinking at a rapid rate, there are some pockets experiencing baby booms, like the island of Ugljan in the Zadar Archipelago.
Ninety children have been enrolled in kindergarten this year, confirming that there has been a real baby boom on the island in recent years.
“There are really more and more children in Ugljan, the kindergarten is overcrowded, there is a waiting list, and this year we opened an all-day room to relieve Preko where there are already twenty-two children in the group, local resident Katja Grgurev told HRT.
Blanka Klarin, an expert associate speech therapist at DV “Lastavica” on the island, says that every year the number of children is actually increasing, but also the number of children who need to stay for a full day.
“There are young parents who want to work and that is why this year the all-day program was opened in Ugljan, the kindergarten was expanded and renovated so that we can provide a service to all parents, emphasises Klarin.
As HRT reports, kindergarten is an extremely important factor on the island because parents want to work and need to leave the kids somewhere. In the small settlement of Preko there are now 305 students.
Compared to other islands, Ugljan is very satisfied with the numbers as the decline in the number of children being born has stopped.
“We have distributed more than 100 maternity benefits in the last 4 years. In 2017, we raised the amount to 7 and a half thousand kuna for the first child, the second 15,000, the third 30,000, the fourth 60,000 thousand and each other after that also 60,000. This is one of the largest incentives we have in the country and we like to brag about it,” Jure Brižić, the Mayor of Preko, told HRT.
Last year, the Municipality distributed a little more than 300,000 kuna for this purpose, and a total of one million and 200 thousand kuna in the past four years.
Apart from that incentive, kindergarten is also subsidised, there is help with the purchase of textbooks and loans for young people who need it. In addition, there are good transport links. There are more than twenty ferry and boat lines a day, so people can easily go ashore from Ugljan at any time.
Therefore, many young parents who want to live on an island, Ugljan seems like a pleasant place where they do not have to give up the many benefits of the city. That is why they are expecting even more children here in the future.