Information about the services and regulations regarding early childhood education and care in Denmark...
The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for the Social Services Act, and for early childhood education and care.
Most children in Denmark are looked after by a child-minder, at a day care centre or nursery. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to provide child care services in each municipality. Although these provisions may vary from one municipality to another, all have nurseries for infants and toddlers, as well as crèches/kindergartens.
Some of the childcare options for children under the age of six include:
- Day care with an approved childminder (Dagplejer) for children up to the age of three
- Private day care for children up to the age of three
- Nursery (Daginstitutioner) for children aged six months to two years
- Crèche (vuggestuer) for children aged between three and six
- Integrated institutions (Aldersintegrerede institutioner) for children aged six months to six years
- Særlige dagtilbud is a special day-care facility for children with permanent or considerably reduced mental or physical capacities
There are three adult care-providers for every ten children in nursery; and two adults for every twenty children in kindergarten groups.
Parents pay for child care, however, by law this may not be more than 25 to 28 percent of the cost of the care in a municipal institution. Parents who have several children receive sibling discount and can apply for free or reduced cost places in child care. Some municipalities allow parents a grant to look after their own children.
Parents with children in private day care (for example with a nanny), may receive a grant from the local municipality. Private day care operates on the basis of an agreement between the municipality and the private child minder, and must meet the same requirements as day care provided by the local authorities.
Parents of children aged 24 weeks up to school starting age can apply for financial subsidies for private care instead of using a place in a day care centre. The municipal council may decide to only provide a subsidy for private child care for parents with children in a specific age group. Parents with income below a certain amount can get additional subsidies (økonomisk fripladstilskud) from the municipality.
From the age of three it is mandatory for children who do not speak Danish to receive language stimulation (special help to learn Danish). This service is provided by the local authorities and can take place at a nursery, or at the child's home. If the child is looked after at home they receive 15 hours per week.
Parents should contact the municipal authorities to book a place for their child immediately after birth. If there are no places available, the child can be put on a waiting list. It is possible to visit day care centres and speak to the personnel who will be looking after the child. An appointment should be booked beforehand.
School in Denmark is compulsory from the age of six. Children begin school in August of the year that they turn seven. However, most children attend a year of pre-school before compulsory schooling begins.
Normally babysitters and au pairs have to be at least 17 years old to look after children. There are several websites where parents can look for nannies and au pairs.
Grants are not available for private child care arrangements, for example babysitters.