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More children than ever attending day care facilities for schoolchildren

A record number of children are participating in day care facilities for schoolchildren (SFO). The increase is related to the fact that the government introduced an offer of 12 hours of free SFO per week for all first-graders in the autumn.

This measure saves families about NOK 20,000 a year, and is a follow-up to the investment in SFO mentioned in the government’s platform.

New figures published today by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training show a new record for SFO participation, and the largest increase has been among first-graders.

92% of first-graders now participate in SFO, an increase from 83% in 2021. Participation has also increased among children in grades 2-4.

In total, 165,000 children across the country attend SFO, which is 12,000 more children than last year. 

This new record is related to the government’s introduction of 12 free hours of SFO as part of its platform. Cheaper SFO for first-graders has increased the number of children participating in SFO.

Expanding the offer of free SFO to second-graders

In autumn, the offer of 12 free hours of SFO per week will be expanded to also include second-graders.

“The government wants all children to have the opportunity to attend SFO. It is a good arena for inclusion and social community. Cheaper SFO will help many families in a financially challenging time. Therefore, I think it is right that the government, together with the Socialist Left Party, prioritised this for both first and second-graders in next year’s state budget,” says prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labour Party).

“This is a historic expansion of state education provision. When second-graders also receive 12 free hours of SFO in the autumn, it will help to lessen social differences. It is important that all children are able to participate, and that parents are able to work,” says Minister of Education Tonje Brenna (Labour Party).

Largest increase in Agder

SFO participation has increased in all counties. The largest increase (15%) was in Agder, while Innlandet had the second largest increase (13%) since last year. Oslo has the highest number of children in SFO, with a participation rate of 97% of first-graders (see figure below).

In addition to lowering the price, the government also plans to increase the quality of SFO. The government will continue to build on the work of the national framework which was introduced in autumn 2021, and invest in strengthening the expertise of employees in order to increase the quality of SFO. In the state budget for 2023, NOK 10 million has been set aside for expertise-building for SFO employees.

Facts

  • In 2023, the government is spending NOK 1.4 billion on a free offer for first-graders, and NOK 700 million to expand the scheme to include second-graders.
  • The price is important for deciding whether children go to SFO or not. In an evaluation of SFO from 2018, a third of those surveyed said that price was the reason not to use SFO.
  • Today, the vast majority of part-time places in SFO are around 12 hours a week, and part-time places became free for all first-graders in autumn.
  • The price of an SFO place is decided locally. A part-time place costs an average of NOK 1,820 per month, while a full-time place costs an average of NOK 2,870 per month.
  • In total, 165,000 children across the country attend SFO. This is an increase of 8% from 153,000 children in autumn 2021.
  • Read more about these figures from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training at udir.no