The article emphasizes the importance of pre-school educational institution, its complex role in the implementation of the principles of the welfare state: it plays not only an educational, but also a social function, providing governmental support to families with children. This statement is supported by theoretical approaches, which emphasize the importance of full day educational services, allowing parents of preschool children to exercise their right to work, and stress the socializing role of kindergarten. This is a qualitative research based on 30 in-depth interviews with parents conducted in Moscow. The results show that parents understand the service provided by the kindergarten as a complex, aimed primarily at daytime children education and development in a specifically organized educational space, performed by professional educators. The greatest value for parents is developing children’s capacity to communicate, to resolve conflicts and to find compromises, to relate their behavior with group-mates and peers. The second important value of education in kindergarten is development of life skills and routines, self-reliance and initiative. At the same time, the main professional competence of the educator is seen in the ability to create a positive emotional climate, an atmosphere of openness for the manifestations of child individuality and to create a space for a comfortable communication with parents.

Keywords: early childhood education, preschools, kindergarten, preschoolers, educational policy, program evaluation, educational space, preschool teachers