Rules for day-care facilities

All children in Denmark must have the possibility to receive childcare in a day-care facility

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All children who have legal residence in Denmark must have the possibility to receive childcare in public day-care facilities.

The municipality determines, among other things:

  • What it costs to have your child in day care
  • When the child may enrol in the waiting list
  • The extent to which waiting lists for children from other municipalities may be closed for a limited period of time

You must apply for a place in public day-care facilities.

You have the possibility to seek a place in a public day-care facility in another municipality unless the municipality in question has closed the waiting list for children from outside the municipality.

According to the rules for the childcare guarantee, the municipality must provide a place in a day-care facility for all children older than 26 weeks that is appropriate for their age until the child starts school. If you want a place immediately in connection with the 26 weeks, the municipality has a deadline of a further four weeks to offer this place.

As parents, you must ensure that the child is enrolled for a place within the guidelines and deadlines for enrolment that the municipality has determined.

The municipality has the obligation to provide a place in a child-care facility for all children from the age of 26 weeks that is appropriate for their age until the child starts school. The municipal council in the individual municipality must offer a childcare guarantee. The childcare guarantee means that the municipal council in the individual municipality has the obligation to provide a place in a child-care facility for all children from the age of 26 weeks that is appropriate for their age until the child starts school.

When parents seek a place in situations other than in extension of childbirth, the municipality must offer a place no later than three months after the time of application; that is, the day when the municipality’s administration receives the parents’ application. The holding of postponed maternity leave and/or paternity leave is covered by “other situations”.

You have the right to request a place in a specific day-care facility, for example, a specific day nursery. But the childcare guarantee does not mean that you have the right to the specific place that you want.

If you exceed the municipality’s deadline for enrolment by, for example, two weeks, the municipality may wait two more weeks before offering a place to the child.

If the municipality cannot fulfil the childcare guarantee, you have the right to:

  • Have expenses covered at another day-care facility place in another municipality
  • Have expenses covered for a place in a private facility or staying in a private childcare scheme
  • Receive a financial subsidy to have the child taken care of

You can read more about the rules for the childcare guarantee on the Ministry of Children and Education’s website.

You have the right to a place in a day-care facility for your child for all working days, but not on weekends or holidays, or Constitution Day on 5 June or Christmas Eve on 24 December.

The day-care facility may only be closed on working days if there is a very low turnout of children, for example, during summer holidays or the day after Ascension Day. The low turnout of children must reflect the parents’ actual need for childcare.

If the child’s day-care facility is closed, you have the right to have another place for your child. This is called alternative childcare.

Prior to any closing days, the municipalities must notify the parents well in advance that there will be closing days and that an alternative day-care facility will be available. The municipalities must also notify the parents well in advance about where the alternative day-care facility is located.

When you get a place in a day-care facility, you must pay part of the expenses for the place yourself.

The municipality must provide a subsidy of at least 75 per cent of the expenses for the place. The parent contribution may thus comprise no more than 25 per cent of the expenses.

The municipality has the obligation to publish rates for a place in day-care facilities.

In addition to the subsidy of at least 75 per cent, you and your child may also be entitled to a financial free-place subsidy, sibling subsidy, treatment free-place subsidy and social-educational free-place subsidy. Read more and search at borger.dk.

In some situations, it may be practical if the child is given a day-care facility place in a municipality other than the one in which you live.

It could be the case, for example, if you live close to a municipality boundary and have a shorter distance to a facility in the neighbouring municipality. Another situation might be that it makes your daily life easier if the child goes to a day-care facility in the municipality where a parent works or studies.

This requires that the other municipality has not closed its waiting list for children from outside of the municipality.

Private day-care facilities are run on the basis of an agreement between the municipality and the private childminder.

There is no obligation on the municipality to enter into agreements on private day-care facilities. It is therefore up to the municipality to decide whether it wants to enter into an agreement with a private childminder.

If the municipality chooses to enter into agreements on running private day-care facilities, the same requirements must be made to both the municipal and the private day-care facilities in the municipality.

If the municipality enters into an agreement on running a private day-care facility, the municipality must provide a subsidy per child in the private day-care facility. The subsidy is determined on the basis of the day-care facility’s budgeted gross operation expenses. The parent’s own contribution may be no more than 25 per cent of the private day-care facility’s budgeted gross operation expenses that it has agreed with the municipality.

Day-care facilities may be established and run as independent day-care facilities by a private supplier as agreed with the municipality.

For example, an undertaking, an organisation or a group of parents may establish an independent day-care facility as an alternative to the municipal facilities if the municipality agrees to enter into an operation agreement with the independent day-care facility.

The independent day-care facilities are subject to municipal supervision and receive subsidies from the municipality to cover the facility’s expenses. The rate for a place in the facility may comprise no more than 25 per cent of the budgeted expenses for the place.

Independent day-care facilities are characterised by being non-profit facilities, which therefore cannot withdraw any surplus from operations.

There is no requirement that the municipality must enter into agreements with independent facilities.

Everyone can establish a private facility if they can render probable that they can comply with the requirements of the Act on Day-Care Facilities regarding content and live up to the approval criteria that the municipality has determined.

The municipality’s requirements for private facilities must be professional and concrete, and they must not be more restrictive or easier than the requirements for the municipality’s own day-care facilities.

In connection with the approval of a private facility, the municipality may make requirements regarding an operation guarantee.

The municipality may not assign a place in a private facility. The municipality provides a subsidy per child that is enrolled in the private facility. The private facility determines the parents’ own contribution itself. The municipality carries out supervision of the private facility.

Private childcare schemes are private schemes in which parents and a private childminder may enter into an agreement on caring for one or more children. It is the private childcare scheme itself that determines the parents’ contribution.

The parents may receive a financial subsidy from the municipality on the condition that the municipality approves the childcare agreement that has been entered into, including the childminder and the physical framework where the child is to be cared for. The municipal council determines the subsidy for private childcare. The subsidy is determined in the same way for all children in the same age group.

If the municipality approves a private childcare scheme, the municipality must carry out supervision of the scheme. Private childcare schemes are not covered by the requirements of the Act on Day-Care Facilities for, for example, educational curriculums etc. The private childcare scheme must be arranged so that it promotes children’s learning through secure learning environments. In terms of content, the work with learning environments must meet the requirements for learning and learning environments in day-care facilities, just as the work with learning environments in the individual private child care scheme must be based on the composition of the group of children and the children’s different backgrounds.

Private childcare schemes may be run as a facility and in private homes. If the private childcare scheme is established in the form of day care in the childminder’s own home, permission may be given to receive no more than five children under the age of 14. However, if the childcare is carried out by more than one person, permission may be granted to receive up to 10 children. However, the individual childminder may be approved to mind no more than five children.

Day-care facilities must comply with a number of requirements.

Among other things, a certificate to show that the personnel have not been involved in child abuse must be obtained prior to employment. There is more about this in the article on ‘certificates to show that you have not been involved in child abuse’ at borger.dk.

You can also read more about the requirements in the Act on Day-Care Facilities and on the Ministry of Children and Education’s website.

All day-care facilities must prepare an educational curriculum. The educational curriculum must set objectives for children’s learning within six themes, which are mentioned in the following: the child's comprehensive personal development, social development, communication and language, the body, senses and movement, nature, outdoor life, science, culture, aesthetics and sense of togetherness.

The educational curriculum must state how the children’s environment will become an integrated part of the educational work.

Language evaluation is a tool that the educational personnel can use in the educational work with children’s language development.

All children who are approximately three years old and attend a day-care facility must receive a language evaluation if there are linguistic, behavioural or other conditions that give rise to presuming that the child may need language stimulation.

All children who are approximately three years old who do not attend a day-care facility must receive a language evaluation. On the basis of the language evaluation, it will be assessed whether the child needs language stimulation.

The municipality's responsibility

The municipality may decide that the language evaluation is to be brought forward to children who are about two years old. If the municipality has brought the language evaluation forward, the municipality is not obligated to carry out a language evaluation of the child again when the child is around three years old.

The municipality is responsible for ensuring that children receive the language stimulation they need. Language stimulation must, among other things, be based on the challenges and resources that are identified in the language evaluation.

Language stimulation

Danish-speaking children who do not attend a day-care facility and who need language stimulation must receive language stimulation, for example, within the physical framework of a day-care facility. Bilingual children who do not attend a day-care facility and who need language stimulation must be admitted to a language stimulation offer in the form of a day-care facility 30 hours a week. Bilingual children are defined as children who have a mother tongue other than Danish and who did not learn Danish until they were in contact with the surrounding environment.

Parents of children who are to receive a language evaluation and, possibly, receive language stimulation are obligated to have their children participate in the language evaluation and, possibly, language stimulation or in a language stimulation that corresponds to what is generally required of the language stimulation that the municipality offers, which, for example, the parents can carry out themselves.

The municipality must make a decision on stopping child benefits, cf. the Act on Child and Youth Benefits if the parents do not comply with their obligation and the lack of compliance is not due to excusable circumstances.

Parents have the possibility of establishing a parents’ committee in all municipal, independent and outsourced day-care facilities.

The parents’ committee may determine principles for the work and financing of the day-care facility.

In connection with the approval of private facilities, the municipal council must ensure that the parents are given influence corresponding to parental influence in independent day-care facilities.

If you are dissatisfied with the way your child is cared for, you must speak with the educational personnel who care for your child on a daily basis. If it is about more general conditions in the day-care facility, you may contact the parents’ committee or speak with the person in charge.

If, for example, you want to complain about the work carried out by the educational personnel in your child’s day-care facility or you want to complain about the service level in the municipality, you must complain to the municipality.

If you are dissatisfied with a specific decision, for example with regard to a free-space subsidy that the municipality has made in accordance with the Act on Day-Care Facilities, you can complain about the municipality’s decision. You must complain to the municipality within four weeks. The municipality must the re-assess its decision within four weeks of the complaint being received. If the municipality upholds the decision, your complaint is forwarded to the Board of Appeal, which will rule on the decision.

If you believe that the municipality does not comply with applicable legislation, you can contact the supervision in the Board of Appeal.

Based on your information, the supervision assesses, among other things, whether there is a basis for starting a supervision case.

The supervision in the Board of Appeal is a legal supervisory entity. This means that the supervision only assesses whether legislation has been complied with. The supervision does not take a position on whether the municipality’s actions are reasonable or appropriate, or whether the case processing is in compliance with good administrative practice.

Last updated: 12 December 2020