Is the cost of childcare increasing in Denmark?

The cost of childcare in kindergartens and other institutions has seen modest increases across Denmark over the last 12 months, an analysis has found. A parents’ organisation has expressed concern over the trend.

Is the cost of childcare increasing in Denmark?
Danish parents' and professional organisations have voiced concerns as the cost of childcare has crept upwards. File photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

While the cost still pales in comparison to the price of unsubsidised childcare in other countries, parents in Denmark are now paying slightly more for childcare compared to recent years, broadcaster TV2 reports.

Research institute Bureau 2000 gathered rates from Denmark’s 98 municipalities for daycare, nursery, kindergartens and after school centres and compared present prices with the beginning of 2022. 

The amount paid by parents for childcare with childminders (dagpleje), creches (vuggestue), kindergartens (børnehave) and after-school clubs (skolefritidsordning, SFO) increased by between 3.5 and 4.9 percent between the beginning of January 2022 and 2023, depending on the regional location in Denmark.

The analysts found the largest jump in the price of after-school clubs — 4.9 percent, or an average increase of 82 kroner to a total of 1,758 kroner per month. Price changes varied by region and some are notably higher. The largest increase was 300 kroner (to 1,777 kroner) in Slagelse Municipality.

For creches the average increase was 3.5 percent, giving a 39 kroner increase to 4,034 kroner monthly (lunch included), while for kindergartens a 3.6 percent average increase results in 2,591 kroner or 91 kroner more per month (lunch included).

While these figures seem modest indeed compared with childcare costs in countries such as the United States or United Kingdom, Denmark’s National Association of Parents (Forældrenes Landsorganisation, FOLA) fears the price increase will result in families withdrawing their children from childcare. 

READ ALSO: How does the cost of childcare in Denmark compare to other countries?

“It’s a catastrophe,” FOLA chairperson Signe Nielsen told TV2.

“In the after-school area, it will certainly have the consequence that more parents consider letting their children go [directly] home from school instead of to after-school club,” Nielsen said. 

The FOLA chairperson said she had already heard parents discussing their options due to increased costs.

The trade union for childcare workers, BUPL, also expressed concern in comments to TV2.

Children in families facing financial difficulty could be disproportionately affected, BUPL committee member Lars Søgaard told TV2.

“We fear that fewer children will come to after-school, and sometimes this is also the children who need structured free time surroundings most of all,” he said.

Municipalities have increased the parent-contribution element of their operational costs for after-school clubs from 43 percent to 51 percent since 2009, TV2 reports. There is no limit on how much municipalities are allowed to raise the price paid by parents for the clubs.

In contrast, parents may not pay over 25 percent of the operating costs for creches, kindergartens or home childminding. The remainder is paid by the municipality.

READ ALSO: Vuggestue or dagpleje? The difference between early Danish childcare options 

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Copenhagen changes name of new baby ‘mothers’ groups’ to allow groups with dads

Neonatal mothers’ groups known as mødregrupper in Copenhagen will be given a new name, barselsgrupper (‘parental leave groups’) in a move that is hoped will get dads involved during their parental leave.

Copenhagen changes name of new baby ‘mothers’ groups’ to allow groups with dads

Copenhagen Municipality will soon put together the groups for new parents living in the city based on whether parents prefer their group to only include mums, only include dads, or have a mixture of both, broadcaster DR reports.

The groups, long termed mødregrupper, exist to help parents of newborn infants to contact others who have just welcome a child into the world, giving them a support network in the early days of parenthood.

Since the 1970s, district nurses (sundhedsplejersker) have placed 6-8 new mothers from the municipality together in groups which they can use to support each other and share experiences. The groups are usually arrange by district nurses who know new mothers locally.

The municipality’s elected committee for children and youth voted unanimously to switch to a new model bringing in fathers, called barselsgrupper.

The motivation for the proposal was that “there was no offer equivalent to mothers’ groups for fathers who take a long parental leave after the baby is born”.

“If someone wants it to be just a mothers’ group, or if someone wants it to be just a fathers’ group or mixed groups, we will try to put people together on that basis,” the head of the committee, Conservative Jakob Næsager, told DR.

READ ALSO: What to expect when you’re having a baby in Denmark

“Luckily, a lot of children are born in Copenhagen so that should make it possible to match people,” he said.

Although the municipality wants to offer fathers the option of parenthood groups in the same way it has done for mothers up to now, mothers will still be able to choose women-only groups, DR reports.

That will give them a sense of security when they “share certain questions with other women” including breastfeeding, the municipality states.

A representative from the Danish nurses’ trade union in Copenhagen told DR the new offer was “good” but noted it added administrative responsibilities for district nurses.

She also said that despite the name change, mothers’ groups were essentially not being replaced but supplemented by an additional option.

“This will be more of a supplementary option that will be chosen by a small section of Copenhageners,” the representative told DR in a written comment.

“I’m interested to see who that will be and I hope the scheme will be evaluated,” she said.

Danish parental leave rules were last year changed to “earmark” a greater proportion of the leave to each parent, meaning fathers – for example – can no longer hand over the vast majority of statutory leave to mothers.

The new “parents’ groups”, which will not present additional costs to the municipality, are expected to be implemented in Copenhagen Municipality from the second quarter of 2023, DR reports.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Denmark’s new parental leave rules