Burning out of early childhood professionals, can we stop it?

A worrying trend in Hungary as early childhood professions remain unfilled due to low salaries and high levels of stress. Call centers pay twice as much, a professional said.

By Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Hungary Project Manager at Partners Hungary Foundation.

Budapest – A roundtable on current trends in the professional development of early childhood educators turned into a heated debate on the status of the early childhood profession.

The event organized by REYN Hungary, gathered experts coming from the higher education sector, early childhood NGOs, researchers and practitioners.

The attendees added to the agenda points something that everyone in the room felt highly important: the early childhood education and care (ECEC) profession has become unhealthy and non remunerative.

ECEC workers leave their jobs to change profession, for example a preschool teacher went to work in a call center for a salary twice as high, she said.

Early childhood jobs remain vacant

There are approximately 5000 health visitors in Hungary that due to low salary and administrative burden looked for work in other fields. Regions with a high Roma population are facing the biggest shortage of professionals. In Nógrád county nearly one third of the jobs (27 percent) are vacant (

The same is valid for other positions such as pediatricians, preschool teacher and social worker. These are non-attractive professions for the newcomers, due to low prestige and salary. According to data from the National Health Insurance Fund (NEAK), over 60,000 children nationwide lack pediatric services.

Burn out

At the event, participants from the audience talked about their professional and personal situation: low paid salaries, no professional support, no supervision and extreme workload, fatigue them or lead them to burn out.


A researcher shared her research results on what would help to prevent burn out of ECEC professionals. The keyword is prevention: professional supervision, coaching, sabbatical years and study visits are all activities that professionals should be granted. The debate went on on how ECEC professionals could raise their voice in order to advocate for their needs. Participants agreed that REYN (Romani Early Years Network) should be a platform that could support them in this.

The REYN Hungary event held on November 27th, 2019.

A positive story

To close on a positive note one teacher shared an example of inter-agency work that made her proud. She asked the major of her city to read his favorite fairy tales to the children of her school. Following the success of the initiative, she asked the major to pass this task to a colleague of his at the municipality. The next month the notary of the municipality read his favorite fairy tales. Then he passed the task along to another colleague etc.

With this very charming practice the school and the municipality staff started to bond and work together in more projects.

Notwithstanding the success of this and other initiatives, systemic interventions are urgent to address endemic problems in the early childhood sector in Hungary.

Read more about REYN Hungary.

REYN Hungary: training for early childhood professionals helps prevent burnout

- News

Early childhood professionals mention heavy workload and low recognition of their role among the main causes of stress. The REYN National Network in Hungary helps the early childhood workforce strengthen their capacity and advocates for their well-being.

REYN Hungary builds the capacity of early childhood professionals who work with Roma in the country. One of their workshops, titled “Burnout prevention for professionals working with Roma children”, recently tripled the amount of applications and had great reviews by participants. The training was delivered to health visitors, child protection workers, kindergarten teachers and principals.

“I felt like I needed this training because, as an health visitor, I wanted to keep delivering despite the difficult circumstances. I did not have the chance to attend such a training for many years”, says Csilla Kuráthné Ábel, a participant.

People working in early childhood settings have an important role in the children’s development and it is therefore key to support their well-being.

Alarmingly, the early childhood workforce is at higher risk of stress if compared it with other professionals. As indicated by the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative, “61 percent of educators reported that their work is “always” or “often” stressful”. Among the causes they mention there are: “high-stakes job demands, limited resources and professional autonomy, and negative school climate”.

Hungary is not an exception. The participants reported high bureaucratic burden, heavy workload and low pay. “There is a significant number of unfilled vacancies and young people are not motivated to choose this career”, Csilla declares. “More prevention is needed but this is not happening due to the lack of financial resources and lack of care for staff.”

REYN Hungary strives to create professional learning communities to facilitate exchange, raise awareness and help prevent burnout.

“As REYN National Network in Hungary, we know that only a happy teacher can make children happy” – says Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Coordinator – “for this reason we often organize training for early childhood professionals. We believe it is important to empower people who work with Romani children and families.”

Participants highly appreciated the training, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to join”, says Csilla. “I am thankful for this. Because dealing with small children takes a lot from professionals and such professional and human recharging opportunities are important”, says Baranyi Marcsi, another participant.

REYN Hungary offers different types of training all year long, many of which are for free or at discounted rates for the members. Learn more and join their network.

‘Buna zua! Kum ješć?’ REYN Croatia presents the course for teaching the basics of Beyash language to adults

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The Romani Early Years Network Croatia offered a course of Beyash language to its members – primarily to educators and other professionals working with Roma children. The course is taught by Romani assistants, Biljana Horvat and Elvis Kralj, with the guidance of Professor Radosavljević. The Beyash language is an old Romanian dialect; it is spoken by a large number of Roma people in Croatia and specifically in the Međimurje County, which has the highest concentration of Roma people in the country. This is the first time that a course of this kind is delivered, so far there have been no published resources nor teaching materials in Beyash.

Read more about the course here.

Soft Skills Matter

- Blog | REYN Admin

During the last week of January, the Romani Early Years Network Croatia provided members of REYN International – early childhood practitioners, activists and experts from Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Czech Republic and the Netherlands – with a unique opportunity to see the results of their work. Today, reflecting on the cropstudy visit and the REYN Croatia Conference, the experience reminds me of an excellent speech by James Heckman, Nobel laureate and champion for quality early childhood development. As the world is rushing to reach the best cognitive results of children, Heckman reminds us that cognitive skills are not enough.

Addressing policy and business leaders in Chicago on 16 December 2010, Heckman pointed out that motivation, sociability, ability to work with others, attention, self-regulation, self-esteem and ability to defer gratification matter a great deal, and along with cognitive skills they determine success at school and in labor force and in life itself. Interestingly, it may be good to remind ourselves that Heckman is an economist, someone you would expect to look for numbers and easily quantifiable phenomena.

Earlier in 2010, in the case of Oršuš and Others versus Croatia, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the state and found ethnic discrimination in establishment of Roma-only classes at some schools in Međimurje County. The ruling set the tone for discussions about education of Romani children in the county, this tone was evident during our visit to primary schools in Orehovica and Kutina. In order to fulfill the judgment, many schools started busing programs, especially in places where Roma-only classes would result from the local demographic trends. While some see this practice as a solution to segregation, many understand that physical placement of children next to each other may not be enough. To promote real inclusion, children’s soft skills have to be developed, just as James Heckman suggest.



During one of the meetings, Dragica Varat, a teacher at Vladimir Vidrić School in Kutina, expressed how thankful she was for the opportunities offer by Croatian REYN. After many years’ experience of working with Romani children, having taught parents as well as children in many families, she says she still has a lot to learn. Visiting her classroom and seeing Romani and non-Romani children cooperate, work together and being confident when talking to the visitors, one may think she is unnecessarily modest. But this is probably just how you become a great teacher – growing professionally as well as personally all the time. And REYN is there to help if you do just that.

Applications now welcome for latest REYN Training: Building a Roma Living Library, January 2016

- Blog | REYN Admin

Group PICFollowing the success of the 2015 “Building a Roma Living Library” in Milan, Italy, in September 2015 we are happy to announce a new opportunity for REYN members to participate in this innovative training.

The latest “Building a Roma Living Library” training will take place on January 26th – 29th, 2016, in Skopje, Macedonia, as a part of our capacity building program.

The Living Library attempts to challenge prejudice by facilitating a conversation between two groups of people: the Books and the Readers. In the Living Library, books are not made out of paper; books are people of flesh and blood, with all their experiences, with prejudices that affect them and influence their lives. The Living Books are willing to share their personal experiences of discrimination or social exclusion with the Readers and most importantly, Books give Readers the opportunity for dialogue and exchange opinions with them, in the hope that through this process most common stereotypes will be challenged and therefore the attitudes and behaviors of wider society will be changed. Through personal contact with the Living Book, Readers will understand that we are not defined by belonging or not belonging to different groups and that we are all individuals, similar or different, but above all we are human beings with our own stories.

For more information on the training (goals, expected outcomes and methodology) please look at the document attached with the brief description of the training.

All the expenses for meals, visas, travel and accommodation will be covered by ISSA. This training is open only to REYN members: if you are not already a member of REYN you can join here.

If you are a REYN member and an early childhood practitioner working in early childhood services or in Romani communities, or if you are representing a Ministry or other state body responsible for the quality of education, or if you are doing advocacy work and you want to explore how to challenge existing biases towards Romani communities, and learn more about what you can do to promote inclusive, high quality learning and living environments for Romani children please fill out the Application Form no later than January 6th, 2016.

3 Brief Description

Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

- Blog | REYN Admin

Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

Diversity RomaUnder the auspices of ISSA and the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s (BVLF) partnership project, “Capacity Building of Roma Supporting Partners”, ISSA Senior Program Manager Zorica Trikic, and Professor Jelena Vranjesevic from the University of Belgrade delivered training on “Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation”, in Rome in early November.

Embracing Diversity training promotes anti-discrimination and demonstrates how to build a society respectful of diversity. Hosted by ISSA’s Italian member, Associazione 21 Luglio, the three-day event welcomed 30 Roma and non-Roma trainees from all over the country, including some young Roma and Sinti activists.

The training was a poignant and rewarding experience both for trainees and trainers. Based on the honest exchange of first-hand experiences participants unpacked their personal stories highlighting how bias and stereotypes are taught, reinforced and perpetuated before working on how to uses their experiences to promote a more equitable society where diversity is valued, respected and protected.

Professionals from different universities and NGOs, including OsservAzione Popica Onlus, ABCittà, Mops (Movement for International Cooperation), ASCE (Association of Sardinia against marginalization) and University of Salento also participated.

ISSA trainers are available to delivering Embracing Diversity Training throughout the network.

Improving knowledge and sharing skills

- Blog | REYN Admin

Practitioners and experts from Bulgaria and Macedonia gathered at a peer-learning seminar in Sofia on 29-30 September 2015 to exchange experiences and share best practices in the field of early childhood development for children from vulnerable groups. Each year the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) supports and facilitates learning amongst the association’s membership under the umbrella of their Peer Learning Activities initiative. On this occasion, professionals from over 10 member organizations from the National Network for Children, Bulgaria and three partner organizations from Macedonia discussed successful approaches and methods of working in Roma communities with children and parents.

Bulgraia REYN

Milena Nikolova from the National Network for Children presented a handbook of good practices in the field of early childhood education and care gathered from member organizations of the Network. The practices focus on children with disabilities, from marginalized communities and some with educational deficits or special needs. The common feature of all the good practices is that they are based on the principle that education and development of children starts at birth, they are family-focused and offer individual approach to the children and their families.
Dani Koleva from the National Network for Children presented the EU framework on the early childhood development, while Suzana Kirandziska from the Step by Step Foundation in Macedonia talked on the approaches of working with Roma children in the largest Roma district of Skopje – Suto Orizari. She talked about the importance of both physical environment, the ratio of adults to children, the importance of play for children’s development and the appropriate educational programs, in accordance with the children’s age. The practice of Step by Step Foundation in Macedonia emphasizes not only on working with Roma children and families, home visits, workshops for Roma parents for boosting their parental capacity, but also on working with non-Roma communities for awareness raising on Roma children access to early childhood education and care services.

Zornitsa Stoichkova and Boyan Vassilev from “Health and Social Development” Foundation talked on the importance of being in the community and working there with children and families, so as to build trust and to facilitate access to the services offered. Sustainability of the projects and monitoring and evaluation were also among the discussed topics. Another important approach for the success of practices might be the appointment of a mediator who is part of the Roma community and speaks fluently the language.
Health and Social Development foundation from Bulgaria hosted a visit to its center in the Roma district “Filipovtsi” in Sofia, where they implement programs to work with pregnant women and parents of children up to three years old to improve parenting skills.

Participants in the seminar agreed on the importance of early childhood development and spoke about the economic factor – early investment avoids rehabilitation programs later in life. Experts and professionals agreed upon the necessity to advocate for a strategic framework on early childhood development and a holistic approach to children and families.
National Network for Children will host a conference on the early childhood education and care in Sofia in November to raise the issues concerning investments in this early stage of life and to advocate for better public policies on this topic.