Childcare Options in Hungary

Find out about the options for childcare and nursery education in Hungary...

Nursery (Bölcsőde)

State-run childcare is free and nurseries accept children between 20 weeks and three years of age. Maternity benefits are relatively long in Hungary (up to three years), which means that many children don't start until the age of two. The following documents (of the child) are necessary to register with a local bölcsőde:

  • Birth certificate
  • Health insurance card
  • Address card
  • Vaccination book

Children have to be assessed by their paediatrician to determine whether they can join a crèche, and if they have special needs to see whether they can be integrated into a regular group.

Admission requirements vary from municipality to municipality. They usually require that parents are local residents, that they are employed, or full-time students, or official caregivers. If employed, parents need to provide proof of employment. Some areas also require a recommendation from the health visitor and a document from the relevant crèche. Some districts only accept applications once a year, while others accept applications all year around.

Private nurseries (magán bölcsőde) are available and there are also several international kindergartens in Hungary.

Kindergartens

State, church and foundation-run kindergartens (óvoda) are for children from three to six years old, until they start school. While state and church-run kindergartens are free, they can refuse to take a child if one of the parents does not work, so they often require proof of employment. However, education in Hungary is compulsory from five years old, and kindergartens have to provide a place in the September after a child turns five for at least four hours a day. Furthermore, education law is changing, and it is possible that from 2013 schooling will be obligatory from three years old.

Most kindergartens operate from 07:30 to 17:30 and it is possible to take a child home after lunch. As they often struggle financially, they may require parents to provide toiletries, fruit or craft supplies.

There are several international kindergartens and preschools in Hungary, for example Steiner Waldorf, Montessori, and Rogers.

Private childcare

Childminders (családi napközi or csana) in Hungary have to be registered and certified.

Babysitters are not regulated, although some may have completed state-run courses. Most parents find babysitters through word of mouth, but there are often advertisements in local papers and supermarkets. It is usually possible to find English-speaking nannies and babysitters.