Preschool and After-school care
In Sweden, both parents normally work, therefore, childcare is of the utmost importance to many parents. Sweden offers high-quality childcare, a place to feel safe and grow while mom and dad spend their day at work.
Sweden has a very high percentage of 1 to 5-year-old’s attending preschool (“förskola”) compared to other countries. Preschool is mainly subsidized but still incorporates a maximum-fee policy. Meaning, preschool education is tied to a person’s income and is therefore affordable for both low income earners right through to high-income earners; fees are capped at a very affordable rate. Childcare facilities frequently operate between the hours of 6.30 to 18.30.
Preschool is designed for children aged 1 through 6, or until the child starts school. Municipalities have an obligation to provide preschool activities for children whose parents work or study. Children are normally offered a place within 3-4 months of parents registering a need with the municipality but this can go quicker in August when many children aged 6 move on to school. These facilities provide a stimulating environment for the child with educated staff on hand.
In the fall of the year that a child reaches 6 years of age, they are guaranteed a place in preschool class (“förskoleklass”). This is a one-year compulsory preparatory class preparing each child for starting school.
Municipalities wish to encourage children’s participation at preschool. To help facilitate this, each municipality has its own set of rules in place for what is permitted. Parents who work or study have full rights to use preschool and after-school services, while parents under different circumstances have limited options.
Lund municipality for example, offers parents who are not working or studying the right to have their children in daytime preschool for up to 25 hours per week, while other municipalities might only allow for 15 hours (most common) or another amount. Check with your municipality for exact information.
After-school care (“fritids”) is an on-going part of the school day. It is available to children whose parents work or study and require care outside of the regular school day. After-school care starts for children from the year they move to preschool class (“förskoleklass”) and is available up until grade 6 (age 12/13).
Not all schools operate their own after-school care; it is also possible to send your child to a different after-school care center than the one offered by your school. Consult with your school principle to find out what arrangements can be made for after-school care. Including different club’s children can join. Some clubs are free, while others requrie a fee.
After-school care is often divided into different programs allowing children of similar ages to interact. These programs can involve activity centers (“fritidshem”) for younger children, and activity clubs (“fritidsklubb”) for older children. The age of your child can determine what holiday periods they are entitled to take part in.
Like preschool care, each municipality sets its own rules on what is permitted for after-school care. Parents who are unemployed and not studying are, in general, not allowed to leave their children in after-school care. Though, it is best to check with your municipality or school principle.