Childcare in Denmark, all you need to know

It is clear that starting your life from scratch in another country isn’t as easy as it sounds. On daily basis you face uncountable cultural and personal challenges that you must surpass in order to be successful in this process called ‘adaptation’.

However the fact of having children -and especially small babies- travelling with you make this entire process a little bit trickier.

Therefore here is an overview of the daycare options in Denmark as well as some recommendations that can guide you towards choosing the best institution for your children.

What are the options?

In Denmark there are 3 types of childcare offered before kids enter to the official school system at the age of 6. These are vuggestue (nursery), børnehave (kindergarden) and dagpleje (personalized daycare).

The vuggestue, is an institution for children between 6 months and almost 3 years old, whereas the børnehave takes the older ones from 3 to almost 6 years old. Both can be found as individual institutions or as integrated ones, where the children transition without the need of adapting to a new place. On the other hand the dagpleje is a service offered by an individual person who takes care of a small group of children between 6 months and almost 6 years old in his/her own home.

Note that most of these are public institutions, nonetheless families will have the opportunity to choose private ones in case that’s the preference. All the information related to them can be found in the Aarhus Municipality website.

How much does it cost? 

Daycare services in Denmark have fixed fees, based on the municipality you are residing, however families have the opportunity to request a financial reduction that varies from case to case according to the income of the household. This reduction can sometimes cover the total monthly fee if that is the case and it can also be accessed if parents decide to select private institutions or other childcare services. Nonetheless, this will vary between municipalities.

There is a guide on how to sign up for this reduction and the rules that may apply (both in English). Read more about them here under the ‘Related Links’ tab.

How do you sign up your child?

All the municipalities in Denmark have a guarantee policy for all the children living under that specific area. Nonetheless this guarantee will only apply if the child has been signed up in the system at least 3 months previous to the starting date desired. Hence, it is strongly recommended to do it as soon as possible.

To do it we recommend you to read the following guideline in English and follow the steps indicated.

What to have in mind? 

As noted in the guideline, parents are requested to select 6 institutions they would like their child to attend and later place them in a priority list. This selection is preliminary and can be modified later on, nonetheless the following are some recommendations to have in mind before doing this procedure.

  • Study the different options and select the type of institution you find the most suitable. If possible, request some friends or other parents to share with you the experiences in each of them in other to compare the childcare practices.
  • After selecting the type of institution, check this map (for the Aarhus Municipality) and find which institutions are available for you and your family considering your residency area. It is very important to select the option of ‘lokaldistrikter’ as well as the ‘områder’ as this will give you the exact overview of your area and not the general for the municipality. Under the tab ‘Hvad skal vises” select the type of institution you desire. Note that even though you can apply to others outside your ‘district’, your chances will be always higher if you select those within your perimeter.
  • Once you identify the options and, if it is possible, read the characteristics of each institution under the link provided in the map (all information in Danish). Although they might seem to be very similar among each other, they are not. Each one can have very specific norms you might want to be aware off before choosing it as a definite option.
  • In case the language barrier is present, we strongly recommend you to do a list of questions and request an appointment at those institutions you have selected. Most will be very welcoming and will do the interview in English with no problem.
  • Some of the recommended questions to do in order to find the difference among each other are:
    • Which type of food is it served? In case I have to pack it how is it served (warm/cold)? Can my baby continue having breastmilk/formula there?
    • What are the sleeping policies? Are children woken up in case the parents request so? Can my baby continue sleeping in her own pram?
    • How flexible is the institutions when it comes to changing schedules regarding daily picking and dropping times?
    • Are there other multicultural children? How do you handle bilingual/multilingual children?
    • How often do caretakers communicate with the parents? Can we communicate in English?

What to do after receiving the offer? 

The family  will be informed through official mail that the offer has been made and in that same communication the family will receive the instructions and contact information of the institution.

What to do in case you want to change to another institution? 

As said initially, we really recommend you to follow carefully all the steps in order to avoid the hassle of requesting a change of institution for your child. Because, even though it is perfectly possible it is a time and effort consuming procedure. As a general rule any child shall be in the institution that has been accepted for at least 6 months before a change is done. However the family can place the request for such change after 4 months has passed since the child began attending the initial institution.

In case you need to do so, please read the following information or contact the staff at the citizen service office.

*Please note that the links provided in this article are primarily for the Aarhus Municipality, reason why we strongly recommend you to visit the pages of your area of residence in order to avoid misunderstandings.


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