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Room for improvement in the quality of pre-school day care centres

There are weaknesses related to staffing and qualifications in day care centres that make it more difficult to achieve the goal that pre-school day care provision should be of high quality. ‘Although there are several positive trends in the day care sector, it is crucial that the Ministry of Education and Research maintains its focus on ensuring the quality of day care centres,' says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 6/16/2009 12:07 PM

Document No 3:13 (2008—2009) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the control and administration of day care services was submitted to the Storting on 16 June 2009.

Considering the extensive establishment of new day care centres that has taken place, the Office of the Auditor General's finds that reasonable efforts have been made to achieve the goal of high quality.

At the same time, however, the Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that sickness absence is high in many day care centres and core staffing levels low. The regulations contain requirements regarding the ratio between the number of children and the number of leading teaching staff. The investigation shows that some day care centres have too many children in relation to the number of lead teachers employed.

The principal and the lead teachers must be qualified pre-school teachers or have equivalent qualifications, but dispensations can be granted from this requirement. The number of dispensations from the pre-school teacher training requirement for principals and lead teachers increased by 125 per cent from 2006 to 2008. Thirty-six per cent of the day care centres included in the investigation had one or more staff members who had been granted dispensation.

The day care centres have little time and funds at their disposal for competence-raising measures despite there being a great need for such measures. Employees without day care-related qualifications have fewest course days.

The Office of the Auditor General takes a positive view of the fact that supervision has increased in recent years, but 23 per cent of day care centres have still never been subject to an inspection pursuant to the Day Care Institution Act. In 80 per cent of the inspections carried out by the Offices of the County Governors, the municipalities’ supervision of day care centres has been found to be inadequate in relation to the requirements of the Day Care Institution Act.

The Offices of the County Governors are required to control and carry out spot checks of information provided about the running of day care centres in order to ensure that the basis for the allocation of public grants is correct. The investigation uncovered major shortcomings in the County Governors’ reporting to the Ministry on such checks carried out for 2008. ‘Shortcomings in supervision and reporting mean that the Ministry of Education and Research does not receive sufficient information about the quality of day care centres,’ says Mr Kosmo.

The investigation shows that many day care centres find the calculation of grants complicated and allocations unpredictable. The Ministry of Education and Research has overriding responsibility for ensuring a good financing system that is simple and clear and that ensures predictability for all those involved. ‘We expect the Ministry to improve its guidance in order to ensure that the basis for calculations is clear,’ says Mr Kosmo.
The Ministry of Education and Research agrees that there are challenges relating to quality in the day care sector. The Ministry also points out that the challenges noted by the Office of the Auditor General overlap with the challenges described in the report to the Storting on quality in pre-school day care provision.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Doc. no 3: 13 (2008-2009), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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