After parents’ protest, Danish municipality sets out to meet childcare targets

Three conservative parties in the municipality of affluent Frederiksberg in Greater Copenhagen are in favour of the introduction of a minimum staff-child ratio at the district’s kindergartens and nurseries.

After parents' protest, Danish municipality sets out to meet childcare targets
Frederiksberg. File photo: Philip Davali / Ritzau Scanpix

The Conservative, Liberal (Venstre) and Liberal Alliance party representation in the municipality all support funding childcare institutions such that they meet ratios recommended by the union for childcare workers, BUPL (Børne- og Ungdomspædagogernes Landsforbund).

The issue of staff-child ratios at daycare institutions was the subject of major demonstrations by parents earlier this month.

READ ALSO: Why are so many parents in Denmark demonstrating over childcare?

The BUPL recommendations are a minimum ratio of 1 adult to 3 children in nurseries (roughly 0-3 year olds), and 1 adult to 6 children in kindergartens (roughly 3-5 year olds); a concept termed minimumsnormering in Danish.

Those recommendations have previously been rejected at a parliamentary level by the three conservative parties.

A proposal to introduce the recommendations nationally was in March voted down by all of the right-wing parties at Denmark’s Christiansborg parliament. The opposition Social Democrats also voted against the proposal, while other left-wing parties supported it.

Laura Lindahl is spokesperson for children’s issues with the Liberal Alliance party as well as chairperson of Fredriksberg Municipality’s committee for children. Lindahl said her position was that individual municipalities should be responsible for ensuring the ratios.

“Our argument for not doing it through parliament is that this is a municipal matter,” Lindahl told Ritzau.

Municipalities are capable of finding the funding required to meet the staffing recommendations, according to the MP and municipal committee chair.

“We can show in Frederiksberg, one of the country’s most efficiently-run municipalities, that we can do this. If we can, anyone can,” Lindahl said.

The Liberal Alliance MP noted an analysis by liberal thinktank Cepos, which found that Frederiksberg was Denmark’s most cost-effective municipality in 2015.

The new proposal in Frederiksberg will be phased in from the 2020 budget onwards, according to the three municipal parties backing it.

According to the parties, an extra 40 million kroner will be invested in childcare annually, equivalent to 100 new jobs in the area.

Lindahl told Ritzau there was no set date for full implementation at this stage.

“When you are the country’s most efficiently-run municipality, you can’t just find 40 million kroner growing on a tree. So we need to find out how we can meet this target. It won’t be easy, but we must do it,” she said.

Figures from official agency Statistics Denmark show that Frederiksberg currently has ratios of 3.3 children per adult in nurseries (vuggestuer) and 6.7 children per adult in kindergartens (børnehaver).

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Danish government declines to close childcare but asks parents to keep small children at home

The government has encouraged parents to care for small children at home despite childcare facilities such as kindergartens remaining open.

Danish government declines to close childcare but asks parents to keep small children at home
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Although Denmark’s national lockdown was further tightened by new measures on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s government has resisted closing nurseries and kindergartens (vuggestuer and børnehaver in Danish, ed.).

Schools are closed until at least January 17th, however.

Some left wing parties as well as a union for child care workers have called for the kindergarten facilities to join schools in being closed, according to reports by broadcaster DR.

The government has said that childcare facilities will not be closed but has asked parent to take care of pre-school kids at home where possible.

“Daycare is open since infections are still not being driven by the smallest children. Childcare should take place in small, regular groups where possible,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“Parents are encouraged to keep children home from childcare if this is possible. Additionally, the option of using e.g. visors with regard to daycare will be looked into,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile, the national infectious disease agency SSI said on Wednesday that 63,312 people in the country have received at least one of the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

That corresponds to 1.08 percent of the population, according SSI.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What coronavirus restrictions does Denmark now have in place?