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Publication - Research and analysis

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING

Published: 29 Jun 2013
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9781782564164

This report provides an overview of the current situation regarding early childhood education and care provision in Scotland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France and the Netherlands.

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

Contents
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING
5 Country Report: Denmark[191]

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

5 Country Report: Denmark[191]

5.1 Key findings

  • Denmark has a fully integrated ECEC system with a universal entitlement to a full-time place for children from 26 weeks to compulsory school age. The child's ECEC entitlement starts before the end of the maximum paid parental leave period, giving parents leeway in deciding when to return to work.
  • 74.6% of women age 20-49 without children were employed in 2011, compared to 77.6% of men. 79.7% of mothers with a child below the age of six were employed, compared to 90.9% of fathers.
  • As of 2009, public expenditure on social protection made up 33.4% of GDP. 3.28% was specifically directed toward families and children. Expenditure on ECEC made up 1.3% of GDP in 2007.
  • Survey data for 2005 showed that 24% of fathers and 94% of mothers took parental leave. Recent statistics from 2012 show an increasing tendency for only the mother to take leave.
  • The majority of day care centres are age-integrated, including both a nursery and a kindergarten, facilitating continuity of care.
  • 74% of ECEC services for preschool age children are offered by the municipality. The rest is made up of independent institutions that are predominantly run on a non-profit basis by associations or parents in agreement with the municipality and that receive public funding.
  • In the 2009 budget gross costs per child in a day facility were €11,000 (£8,830), and net costs were €5,600 (£4,495). In leisure time facilities for school-age children, gross costs were €3,850 (£3,090) and net costs were 2,800 (£2,248).
  • Informal care outside the family is forbidden by law.
  • Most children attend full-time day care centres: 67% of all one to three year olds and 97% of three to five year olds are enrolled in such facilities.
  • Public childminders are contracted by the municipality to provide the service. They are selected and trained, paid and supervised by the municipality.
  • Pedagogues or educators holding a university degree are the lead personnel in all day care facilities. They account for 60% of staff - the highest rate of professionals of all the Nordic countries.

5.2 Concepts and objectives guiding ECEC development

  • Denmark has a fully integrated ECEC system with a universal entitlement to a full-time place for children from 26 weeks to compulsory school age. The child's ECEC entitlement starts before the end of the maximum paid parental leave period, giving parents leeway in deciding when to return to work.

In Denmark, services for preschool children have traditionally been considered an essential aspect of the social welfare system, and as such have a long history. Similar to Sweden, the dual aim behind the Danish ECEC system is to provide a quality caring and learning environment for children while their parents work.[192]

Three characteristics stand out for the Danish ECEC model: a high public commitment to provision and funding, universalism as central organising principle, the integration of 'education' and 'childcare' based on social pedagogical ideas grounded in a Fröbelian tradition[193]. The foundations for this model were laid with a series of childcare acts in the 1960s, with a considerable expansion of places over the following decades.[194] Today, the attendance of Danish children in preschool and after school care is amongst the highest in Europe.

5.3 Socio-economic context

Denmark is a democratic constitutional monarchy and EU member since 1973. The population totals 5.58 million[195] with about 129 people per square kilometre.[196] The total fertility rate is 1.76.[197] 4.6 births occur for every 1000 women age 15-19 and the mean age of mothers at first birth is 29.1.[199] 18.1% of the population is under 15 years of age[200] and 17% of children live in sole parent households.[201]

Box 5.1: Summary of key population statistics[202]

Total fertility rate: 1.76
Mean age of mothers at first birth: 29.1
Teenage pregnancies (no. of births per 1000 women age 15-19): 4.6
Child population: 18.1%
Children in lone parent households: 17%

5.4 Employment patterns

The overall employment rate for 2011 was 75.7% of those age 20-64; the unemployment rate was 7.6% for those age 15-74. The employment rate for men age 20-64 was 79% and for women 72.4%.[203] 13.8% of employed men work part-time and 25.2% of employed women.[204] It is most common for both men and women to work between 35-39 hours per week (67% of men and 50% of women).[205]

  • 74.6% of women age 20-49 without children were employed in 2011, compared to 77.6% of men. 79.7% of mothers with a child below the age of six were employed, compared to 90.9% of fathers.[206]

Box 5.2: Summary of employment statistics[207]

Total employment rate: 75.7%
Total unemployment rate: 7.6%
Women's employment rate: 72.4%
Men's employment rate: 79%
Mothers employment rate: 79.7%
Fathers employment rate: 90.9%
Employed men working part-time: 13.8%
Employed women working part-time: 25.2%

Denmark has a GDP per capita at 125% of the EU-27 average[208] - an estimated €41,147 (£33,183) per person in 2008.[209] Foreign trade is central to the Danish economy, two thirds of which is conducted with other EU countries, particularly Germany and Sweden.[210]

5.5 Welfare system and social support for families with children[211]

The Danish welfare system is extensive and constitutes a large proportion of the economy. Overall government expenditure takes up 58.2% of GDP in Denmark.[212]

  • As of 2009, public expenditure on social protection made up 33.4% of GDP. 3.28% was specifically directed toward families and children. Expenditure on ECEC made up 1.3% of GDP in 2007.[214]
  • Denmark has the highest public expenditure on education in Europe (8.7% of GDP); 0.47% of GDP is devoted to pre-primary education;[215] 0.8% is devoted to childcare services.[216]

The ratio of income inequality between the top 20% and bottom 20% is 4.4,[217] while the at-risk-of-poverty rate for children is 10.9%.[218] Income tax on the average worker made up 38.3% of labour cost in 2010.[219]

Box 5.3: Summary of public expenditure[220]

Total public expenditure: 58.2% of GDP
On social protection: 33.4% of GDP
On families and children: 3.28%
On preschool education: 0.47% of GDP

Social security benefits in Denmark include:

  • sickness, hospitalisation, maternity benefits, daily sickness and maternity allowances and re-adaptation aid
  • benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases
  • allowance towards funeral expenses
  • invalidity pensions
  • old age pensions and supplementary pensions
  • unemployment benefits
  • family benefits

Except for unemployment insurance, most branches of Danish social security are compulsory, so there are no conditions for inclusion within the various schemes.

Danish social security systems are generally financed by taxation (taxes paid to the central state, counties and local authorities). However, a general social security contribution, the Labour Market Fund, finances spending on sickness, maternity and unemployment benefits, as well as invalidity pensions and re-adaptation aid. 8% of employees' gross pay, or 8% of self-employed persons' income from self-employment is contributed to the Labour Market Fund.

Family benefits and family allowances are administered by the local authorities (within the scope of the Ministry of Taxation, Skatteministeriet, and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Socialministeriet). Cash maternity benefits are paid by local authorities (within the scope of the Ministry of Employment, Beskæftigelsesministeriet).

Child benefits and allowances include:

  • Child benefit (børnefamilieydelse): paid for all children under 18;
  • Ordinary child allowance (ordinært børnetilskud): granted to children under 18 of single parents and children whose parents are both in receipt of a standard retirement pension or an invalidity pension;
  • Supplementary child allowance (ekstra børnetilskud): granted to single parents whose children receive the ordinary child allowance. Only one supplementary child allowance is paid to the parent, regardless of the number of children;
  • Special child allowance (særligt børnetilskud): granted where a child under 18 no longer has both parents, or where one or both parents receive a standard or early retirement pension. It may be combined with the ordinary and supplementary child allowances.

The amount of child benefit varies according to the age of the child:

  • Zero to two years: DKK 1,416 (£152) per month
  • Three to six years: DKK 1,121 (£121) per month
  • Seven to 17 years: DKK 882 (£95) per month

The maximum benefit per year is DKK 35,000 (£3,768).

Ordinary child allowance (ordinært børnetilskud) equals DKK 406 (£44) per month. The supplementary child allowance is DKK 413 (£44) per month and per household (irrespective of the number of children).

Municipalities can also introduce childcare allowances for parents taking care of their children instead of putting them in a nursery school. The benefit is available for parents who have been resident in Denmark during seven of the eight last years and who have children age between 24 weeks and six years (the municipalities can stipulate more detailed age limits).

Child care allowance cannot exceed 85% of the costs for placing a child in a nursery of the municipality. There are maximum three allowances per household.

5.6 Leave policies for families with small children[221]

5.6.1 Structure

In Denmark, there is Childbirth Leave, which can be further subdivided into four separate leave schemes:

  • leave to be taken by the mother before birth (four weeks);
  • leave reserved for the mother after birth (14 weeks);
  • leave reserved for the father after birth (two weeks, to be taken during the first 14 weeks after birth);
  • leave available for both parents after birth (32 weeks before the child is 48 weeks old).

Mothers must take two weeks after birth. Each parent is entitled to 32 weeks, but the total leave period cannot exceed more than 32 weeks per family. Anyone in a recognised partnership, including same-sex partnerships is eligible for paternity and parental leave.

There is an overlap between the end of the leave period and the entitlement to an ECEC place (when child is 26 weeks old), giving parents the choice when to return to work.

5.6.2 Payment and funding

All four types of leave are paid at full earnings up to a ceiling of €106 (£85) per working day before taxes for full-time employees and the self-employed. This is delivered as a daily cash benefit under the sickness benefit scheme, which is a basic system available for all employees (and self-employed), or they may receive coverage from their employer if covered by a labour market agreement, which gives this entitlement. The sickness benefit scheme is funded by the state from general taxation, except for the first eight weeks when municipalities bear half of the cost.

Where employers pay beyond this amount, they will be members of a leave fund which enables the cost of compensation to be pooled. All public sector employees, through collective agreements, receive full earnings in 24 of the 52-week leave period. Some private sector employers also pay full earnings for part or all of this period.

5.6.3 Role of employers

Eligibility for an employee for all types of childcare leave is based on a period of work of at least 120 hours in 13 weeks preceding the paid leave. Workers with temporary contracts are excluded only if they are not eligible for unemployment benefit. It is possible for parents to return to work on a part-time basis subject to agreement with the employer.

5.6.4 Uptake of parental leave

Nearly all mothers take maternity leave. On average, they used all the 14 weeks to which they were entitled after birth. Most fathers (89%) surveyed in 2006 made use of the two weeks of paternity leave.

  • Survey data for 2005 showed that 24% of fathers and 94% of mothers took parental leave. Recent statistics from 2012 show an increasing tendency for only the mother to take leave.[222]

5.7 National framework of ECEC

ECEC in Denmark is organised and delivered as an integrated system and is an entitlement for all children below school age.

  • All children have a universal entitlement to an ECEC place in a day-care facility from 26 weeks to compulsory school age and it is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure these places are available.[223]

5.7.1 Governance

Day care services for preschool age children and after-school centres for school-age children are regulated by the Day-Care Facilities Act. They used to fall under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, but after the 2011 parliamentary elections they were transferred to the Ministry of Children and Education.[224] After-school facilities attached to schools, known as school free time facilities, are governed by the General Education Act and the Continuation School Act and also fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Children and Education.[225]

Administration and management of ECEC services is the responsibility of each local authority. Local authorities are obligated to ensure sufficient day care places for children between 26 weeks and compulsory school age, as well as after-school care for school-age children. They are involved in direct provision of services, approval and supervision of private centres, referring children to private childminders[226] and delivering subsidies to providers.[227]

5.7.2 Types of services

  • All ECEC services are delivered on a full-day basis.

Some ECEC services are distinguished by age group, while some are age-integrated. Children below compulsory school age may be accepted into nursery or childminder care from 26 weeks to six years of age. However, at age three most children will make the transition to kindergarten.

Alternatively, a child may attend an age-integrated institution from 26 weeks to the beginning of school (and in some cases may continue to receive after-school care from the same institution).

  • The majority of day care centres are age-integrated, including both a nursery and a kindergarten, facilitating continuity of care.[228]

Children of school age either attend after school care attached to schools (school free time facilities, or SFOs) or after school centres.[229]

Most day care facilities are open Monday-Friday year round, opening at about 6:30-7:00 and closing around 16:00. There also exist institutions that are open all day and night to accommodate shift workers; these are, however, rare.[230]

Box 5.4: Types of services[231]

Day-care centres (dagtilbud) - umbrella term for all formal ECEC provision for preschool children, including nurseries, kindergartens, age-integrated institutions and childminding.
Childminding (dagpleje) - family day care catering for children from 26 weeks to 6 years (in practice mainly for children up to 3 years)
Nurseries (vuggestuer) - for children from 26 weeks to 3 years
Kindergarten (børnehaver) - for children from 3-6 years
Age-integrated day-care centres (aldersintegrerede institutioner) - for children from 26 weeks to 6 years (sometimes up to 12 years)
After-school centres (fritidshjem) - for children from 6-10, sometimes older
School free time facilities, known as SFOs (skolefritidsordninger) - school-based after-school care

5.7.3 Public/private mix of provision

The majority of Danish ECEC is publicly provided, including childminding.

  • 74% of ECEC services for preschool age children are offered by the municipality. The rest is made up of independent institutions that are predominantly run on a non-profit basis by associations or parents in agreement with the municipality and that receive public funding.

Most independent associations are run by parents. In 2011 a new law on the 'licensing out' of municipal ECEC services was passed. According to this law local authorities can contract out the running of ECEC services to private companies, who have the possibility, within limits, to draw profit from the service.[232] The number of for-profit providers is, however, low. In 2011, there were 388 institutions (all types: nurseries, kindergartens, age-integrated institutions, playgroups) that ran on a for-profit basis (5.7% of all daycare services), compared to 5,037 municipal and 1,410 independent, non-profit providers.[233]

The majority of after-school care is attached to schools; in 2011 of the 1,913 existing after school services, 1,790 were in schools (approx 94%), while there were 123 recreation centres that were not attached to schools. Only four out of all after school services were run on a for-profit basis; 443 institutions were independent (non-profit) and 1,466 were in municipal ownership.[234]

Table 5.1: Public/private mix of ownership, 2011

Number of municipal
institutions
Number of independent
(non-profit) institutions
Number of private
(for-profit) institutions
Nurseries 183 81 20
Kindergartens 1,052 392 134
Age-integrated day-care centres 1,969 432 113
After school care 1,383 407 -

Source: Danish Ministry for Children and Education, personal communication, October 2012

5.7.4 Financing and costs

The municipalities are responsible for financing ECEC services in their areas. Central state block grants to local authorities and local taxes are used to subsidise all types of ECEC settings on a per-child basis.

Most costs are covered publicly. On average net childcare costs take up 9% of family income.[235] Expenditure is large due to high demand, low child:staff ratios and high salaries for staff. In 2011, Denmark spent 31.2 billion DKK (£3.36bn) on ECEC provision.[236]

  • In the 2009 budget, gross costs per child in a day facility were €11,000 (£8,830), and net costs were €5,600 (£4,495). In leisure time facilities for school-age children, gross costs were €3,850 (£3,090) and net costs were €2,800 (£2,248).[237]

The local authority is tasked with ensuring an ECEC place in a day-care facility for all children and for providing a subsidy for that place directly to the provider. Parents' choices must be respected where possible and subsidies follow the child, whether to a nursery or a childminder, a public or independent place. The local authority is obliged to offer a day-care place within four weeks after the child has reached the age of 26 weeks. If the guaranteed day-care availability is breached, the local authority must offer to cover either the parents' expenses for a private care scheme or the expenses for a place in another local authority. Local authorities are similarly responsible for ensuring children have a place in after-school care.[238]

For children under school-age attending day care services, the local authority is required to cover at least 75% of gross operating costs - parent payments are not allowed to exceed 25% of the costs. For after-school care, parent payments are not allowed to exceed 30%. Since 2010, meals are also required to be provided with day care services. Parents at a day care facility may opt out of the municipal lunch arrangements and collectively make other arrangements or agree to provide lunch individually for their children.[239]

If parents prefer approved private care, the same subsidy follows the child, but private providers are not bound by price ceilings and may set their own rates.[240]

Parent fees are set annually by the municipalities;[241] fees differ for different types of settings. In 2012 the average annual parent fee for municipal day-care for children from birth to age two was DKK 27,557 (£2,967); for nurseries (birth to three years) DKK 32,872 (£3,539); for municipal day-care for children three to five years) DKK 25,912 (£2,790); for kindergartens (three to five years) DKK 18,162 (£1,955); for age-integrated day-care centres for the age group birth to two years DKK 33,070 (£3,560) and for age-integrated day care centres for the age group three to five years DKK 18,979 (£2043). The actual payment of the parents is often lower than the rates as parents with more children or low income receive reductions.[242]

Table 5.2: Average parent fees (without additional subsidies) for 2012

Municipal day-
care for children
(0-2)
Nurseries (0-3) Municipal day-
care for children
(3-5 years)
Kindergartens
(3-5 years)
Age-
integrated
institutions
(0-2 years)
Age-
integrated
institutions
(3-5 years)
DKK 27,557
(£2,967)
DKK 32,872 (£3,539) DKK 25,912
(£2,790)
DKK 18,162
(£1,955)
DKK 33,070
(£3,560)
DKK 18,979
(£2,043)

Parents on low incomes receive an additional subsidy (an 'aided place subsidy') from the local authority. Parents with more than one child enrolled in preschool age care are granted a discount - they pay the full price of the most expensive place and 50% on the other places.[243] Parents with children in after-school facilities and SFO's are also eligible for the siblings discount.

The income-related fees subsidy is linked to a nationally set and progressive scale: in 2012, parents with an annual household income of DKK 485,500 (£52,270) or above pay the full fee, parents with earnings between DKK 312,226 - 315,690 (£33,615 - £33,988) pay 50% of the fee and parents with earning of DKK 156,301 (£16,828) or lower are exempt from ECEC fees. There is an additional subsidy for single parents.[244]

Places in after-school centres are also subsidised. Local authorities must cover at least 70% of the budgeted gross operating costs; parent payments must not exceed 30% of the budgeted gross operating costs.[245] In contrast, school-based free time facilities (SFOs) are not centrally regulated with a fixed parental contribution; instead this is decided by each local authority. Consequently, these fees are often used to plug shortfalls in local authority budgets - in 2009 SFO fees were 30% higher than other after school care.[246]

5.8 Access levels and patterns of use

Children have very high participation rates in ECEC in Denmark. For children below one year, parental care dominates, but many children are enrolled in day care centres from six months.

  • Informal care outside the family is forbidden by law.

In 2011, 19.1% of infants were enrolled in some form of formal ECEC; for one and two year olds the figures were 89.3% and 93.2% respectively, and for three to five year olds it was 97.1%, 97.7% and 96.5%.[247]

  • Most children attend full-time day care centres: 67% of all one to three year olds and 97% of three to five year olds are enrolled in such facilities.[248]

Box 5.5: Enrolment rate of 0-5 year olds in any form of formal ECEC (including full-time and part-time services)

0 year olds: 19.1%
1 year olds: 89.3%
2 year olds: 93.2%
3 year olds: 97.1%
4 year olds: 97.7%
5 year olds: 96.5%

Source: Danish national statistics, 2012; own calculations.

Most preschool children in Denmark attend day-care centres; this is particularly so for children age three to six where enrolment is almost entirely in centre-based care. For the younger children, childminders are more commonly used in rural areas while nurseries and age-integrated facilities are more common in urban areas.[249]

  • Participation in after school services is also high: 84.4% of six to nine-year-olds attend a school-based free time facility after school.[250]

Box 5.6: Enrolment rate of 6-9 year olds in after school care services

6 year olds: 92.6%
7 year olds: 90.8%
8 year olds: 87.1%
9 year olds: 76.4%

Source: Danish national statistics, 2012; own calculations

5.9 System of quality assurance in ECEC

5.9.1 Inspection, monitoring and quality assurance

Each local authority is responsible for the supervision of ECEC provision. Most organise responsibility within a single administration which oversees care services as well as primary schools and other services for children. These administrative bodies employ pedagogical consultants who work closely with day care managers to develop the quality of services.

  • Parent boards, compulsory in all public day care, are also a key aspect of quality assurance. The head of the day care facility is accountable to both the board of parents and the municipality.[251]

Danish tradition has been to emphasise the quality of the institution rather than to monitor the learning achievement of each child. Since 2004, all day care facilities and all childminders (public and private) are required to offer an educational curriculum. There are required themes which must be addressed, such as language, personal development, and social competencies, but the individual centre decides how these themes will be implemented. Since 2007, local authorities must offer a language assessment to three year olds if there are linguistic, behavioural or other factors suggesting that the child may be in need of language stimulation. Also all children who are not attending a day care facility must receive a language assessment. If the language assessment shows sign of need for language stimulation, the local authority must provide the necessary stimulation.[252]

All after school facilities must prepare a child environment impact assessment, which must consider the physical, aesthetical and mental child environment and child experience. Management is responsible for writing out the assessment, with staff and parent input. This must be undertaken at least every three years and when changes are implemented, and must be made publicly available.

  • Public childminders are contracted by the municipality to provide the service. They are selected, trained, paid and supervised by the municipality.[253]

In cases where private childminders are directly contracted by the child's parents they are not subject to the same rules regarding educational curricula and there are no set rules on prices. If, however, more than two children are looked after, the arrangement must be approved by the local authority.[254]Where private childminders enter into an agreement with the municipality they are subject to the same requirements as public childminders.

There is no national regulation concerning child:staff ratios or about the involvement of qualified staff. In practice, child:staff ratios are low. In 2008, they were as follows:

  • Nursery (under-threes): 3.3 children per full-time adult
  • Kindergarten (three to six years): 6.5 children per full-time adult
  • Age-integrated facility (birth to eighteen years): 6.5 children per full-time adult
  • After school centres: 9.4 children per full-time adult
  • School free time facilities: 13.5 children per full-time adult.[255]

5.9.2 Workforce qualifications[256]

Box 5.7: Main ECEC occupations

Childminder (dagplejer)
Pedagogue or educator (pædagog)
Pedagogue or educator assistant (pædagogmedhjælper)

  • Pedagogues or educators holding a university degree are the lead personnel in all day care facilities. They account for 60% of staff - the highest rate of professionals of all the Nordic countries. They are supported in their work by pedagogue or educator assistants.

Table 5.3 ECEC workforce qualifications

Type of provider Staff title Pre-service education required Qualification level
Services for children 0-3 years
Childminding Dagplejer (daily caretaker) or childminder 3 weeks Aptitude and past experience rather than a qualification level
Day nursery Pædagog (pedagogue) or pedagogue / social educator At least 3.5 years tertiary B college training Tertiary degree to professional bachelor in social education
Pædagogmedhjælper (pedagogue assistant) None but vocational level is offered Secondary vocational level with a qualification as pedagogical assistant
Integrated service Same as in day nursery Same as in day nursery Tertiary degree in preschool education
Services for children 3-6 years
Kindergarten Same as in day nursery Same as in day nursery Same as in day nursery
Integrated service Same as in kindergarten Same as in kindergarten Same as in kindergarten
Services for school-age children
After-school care for children 6-9/12 years Same as in kindergarten Same as in kindergarten Same as in kindergarten

All staff who are in contact with children must have pre-training in ECEC as well as regular in-service training. Educators must have at least 3.5 years at university (ISCED level 5B). There is no minimum qualification for assistants, who are assessed by past experience and aptitude instead. However, some assistants take an 18 month training course. There is no mandatory qualification for childminders but they all must receive at least three weeks of training prior to beginning work.

Most educators and educator assistants are members of trade unions. They usually work 37 hours per week, while childminders usually work 48 hours per week. All staff are entitled to paid holidays, sick leave and parental leave.

Table 5.4: ECEC staff pay (DKK)

Hourly earnings Monthly earnings
Child care services managers 264.89 (£29) 42,469.13 (£4,594)
Primary school teachers 235.38 (£25) 37,738.74 (£4,082)
Child care workers 158.41 (£17) 25,397.08 (£2,747)
Teachers aides 175.78 (£19) 28,182.23 (£3,048)

Source: Statbank Denmark, Earnings by salary earners, salary, sector, time, occupation and components, 2010.

5.10 Historical overview of ECEC policy[257]

1820s First preschool establishments introduced as private initiatives for working families

1850 -1900 Part-time private preschool facilities with more educational aims appeared

1919 State subsidy introduced for institutions with a social purpose

1920 Merging of education and care for young children in the form of 'kindergartens'

1933 State subsidy for institutions increased to 50% of operating costs; municipalities increasingly took responsibility for early childhood services

1949 State subsidy widened to institutions not primarily serving disadvantaged children

1960 Maternity leave introduced

1964 Legal obligation for municipalities to ensure universal access to public services

1976 Social Assistance Act emphasised the right to early childhood education and care and required municipalities to devote resources to ensuring access

1984 Paternity and parental leave introduced

1985 Folkeskole Act on Primary and Secondary Education introduced school free time facilities

1987 Full financial administration of preschool institutions delegated to municipalities

1997 Introduction of father quota for leave

2007 Day Care Facilities Act updated municipality responsibilities for ECEC

2009 Compulsory school age moved to six years instead of previous seven years

5.11 Conclusion

Denmark has a universal and integrated approach to ECEC: all children age zero to five have a legal entitlement to ECEC and enrolment rates are very high - the highest in Europe. All ECEC services, whether publicly or privately run, are heavily state subsidised, and parent fees are low. The most common form of ECEC is the public day-care centre.

In recent years there has been increased attention to raising the quality of ECEC services but this has been difficult given a simultaneous freeze on increased public investment in the form of a general tax ceiling. Services are being merged into larger units to deliver cost savings. At the same time pedagogical staff have had to increase administrative tasks in order to respond to state requirements for documentation and evaluation of services.[258]

There has also been interest in boosting the amount of time fathers take on parental leave.


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