As parents with young children (0-5 years of age), finding a childcare option might be an issue in Norway, especially if you live in the bigger cities. Here is a list which explains all the different childcare options you can find in Norway:
- Barnehage (Kindergarten)
A barnehage is where you drop off your child and leave. It is a mandatory requirement for qualified personnel to work in barnehage. The barnehage is usually open Mondays to Fridays, for 9 to 10 hours a day (0700 to 1700, 0730 to 1630). You can have full or part time care for your child. The kindergarten fees are then adjusted accordingly. You can find a list of all the kindergartens in your area on your municipality’s (kommune’s) website. There are different types of kindergartens in Norway and the fees for all are the same for both Norwegians and foreigners residing legally in Norway – as of 2017, 30 030 NOK annually for a 100% spot. A child has a right to a spot in a barnehage when they turn 1. Some children may be offered a spot before they turn 1, this is subject to availability.
- kommunale barnehage (communal kindergarten) – owned by the municipality (commune).
- privat barnehage (private kindergartens) – privately owned (either by individuals or companies).
- familie barnehage (family kindergarten) – family kindergartens are in private homes that are linked to an ordinary kindergarten.
- Natur barnehage (nature kindergarten) – where the children are out in nature for almost the entire time except for meals and bathroom breaks.
Extra fees for food will be incured and will differ according to each individual kindergarten (this can be anywhere from 200 to 700 NOK a month). Some kindergartens provide warm meals for lunch, others don’t. Some provide all meals (breakfast, lunch and fruit/tea time), others only provide lunch and fruit/tea time and there are also some kindergartens who do not provide food at all (i.e. parents have to pack all meals for the children).
The year your children turn 6, it will be compulsory for them to attend school, unless you decide to home-school them. Should you choose to do so, kindly speak to your municipality (kommune). Otherwise, the transition to a Norwegian local school will happen automatically. The parents will get a letter in the mail regarding the school for the child.
Should your circumstances allow, you can stay home with your child/ren. If your child/ren is between one and two years of age and you are a registered member of the National Social Insurance Scheme, you will be eligible to receive cash-for-care benefits. The condition for receiving cash-for-care benefit is that the child does not have a full-time place in a kindergarten that receives public subsidies. A full-time place entails that it is agreed that the child is at the day-care centre for 20 hours or more per week. If the agreed attendance is shorter, 50 per cent case-for-care benefit may be provided. Cash-for-care benefits can be granted for a maximum of 11 months. Contact NAV for more information.
Åpne Barnehage (Open kindergartens)
If you are staying home with your child/ren. you might be interested in knowing about open kindergartens. An open kindergarten is a kindergarten where the child/ren is accompanied by a parent or carer. You do not have to apply to join an open kindergarten, nor is there admission or registration. You simply show up, pay a small fee (usually between 10-40 NOK) and enjoy the activities. There is free play, baby music, singing and dancing sessions and some open kindergartens even have midwives, nurses and other professionals coming in to give talks on topics relating to children and childcare. Coffee/tea and fruit are usually included while you bring a packed lunch for yourself and your child/ren. The open kindergartens are open for only a few hours a day but it is a great place for your child/ren and yourself to socialise with others. Find open kindergartens on your municipality’s website.
A dagmamma looks after children in her own home or in your home. She is not connected to any organisation and anyone can become a dagmamma, so trust your instincts and check references thoroughly. There are dagmammas who work ‘white’ (meaning they are a registered company and pay tax) and dagmammas who work ‘black’ (meaning they do not pay tax). Payment for a full time dagmamma (Mondays-Fridays, 0800 to 1600) ranges from 4000 – 8500 NOK a month. There is no control over the fees so each dagmamma can demand their own rate. Some dagmammas are home with their own child/ren and look after other people’s children in addition while they wait for a spot for their child/ren in kindergarten. Dagmammas can look after 1 to 6 children. You can look for a dagmamma through your social networks or place advertisements in newspapers and notice boards in your community.
Barnepark (Child park)
A barnepark is a outdoor play area where there are some adults watching several children. You can leave your child there for a few hours. The adults watching the children are, however, not qualified. The children will play outside for the duration that they are at the barnepark and will only go indoors for meals and bathroom breaks. Fees differ from municipality to municipality and not all municipalities offer this so check your municipality’s website for more information.
If you are Norwegian or married to one, you are eligible to hire an au pair. An au pair is a young adult from another country who lives with your family and provides in-home childcare services. Note that au pairs can only work up to 5 hours a day, in exchange for the opportunity to live with a Norwegian family and to learn the Norwegian culture. If both parents are foreign, you are not eligible to hire an au pair however there are such families who have managed to hire au pairs so you might want to check this option out. You would probably be able to hire an au pair who is already in Norway, has an au pair visa and is looking for a new host family.
If you only require occasional babysitting, the hourly rate for babysitters is anywhere from 50 to 200 NOK an hour, depending on age, experience, number of children and other factors. You can also agree on a block rate (e.g. 400 NOK for 6 hours). Look for babysitters through your social networks or put up notices in the supermarkets in your area. Be sure to check references thoroughly. Most of all, trust your instincts when you meet the potential babysitters for interviews.