New regulations in the Kindergarten Act
1st of January 2021, new regulations in Act of Kindergarten § 42 regarding a safe and good environment in the kindergarten entered into force. The new regulations state that the kindergarten cannot accept any violations, such as bullying, discrimination, or harassment. Employees in the kindergarten must pay attention to how the children are doing. If an employee suspects or knows that a child does not have a safe and good environment, they must report or tell the head of the kindergarten. The kindergarten must then investigate and they must act if this is the case, based on a professional assessment. If a child or its parents state that the kindergarten does not yield a safe and good daycare environment, the kindergarten is obliged to investigate the matter and, if sufficient measures are available, ensure that the child is provided with a safe and good kindergarten environment.
See more (only in Norwegian): https://lovdata.no/dokument/NL/lov/2005-06-17-64#KAPITTEL_8 and https://www.udir.no/laring-og-trivsel/barnehagemiljo/.
There have been no reforms to date in this area.
Reducing and overcoming barriers to participation in kindergartens
As of August 1st 2015, a new national scheme for free core time in kindergartens was introduced. The scheme now gives all three-, four- and five-year olds from low-income families the right to attend kindergarten 20 hours per week free of charge. The right to free core time is expanded to include two year old children in low-income families from August 2019.
The earnings limit is set in the annual state budget and is set at NOK 548 500 from August 1st 2019. The reform is expected to allow more children with immigrant background to take part in kindergarten from an early age. In collaboration with parents, this will provide opportunities for supporting children's well-being and all-round development including language and social skills.
For children in refugee reception centers the government expanded funding to allow for free core time for three- and two-year olds in 2018. From 2019 allocation will allow also for one-year old children in refugee reception centers to have 20 hours free core time in kindergartens.
In addition to reducing the economic barriers for participation in kindergarten, the government support municipalities in developing recruitment measures to have more children with migrant background participating in kindergarten from an early age. To this end the Directorate for Education and Training has developed a web-page on "how to recruite minority language children to kindergarten" with information, best practice and examples. The web-page also provides fact-sheets with information in different languages.
Strategy for raising competence in the kindergarten sector
A revised Strategy for raising competence for all staff (PDF in Norwegian only) working with children in Norwegian Kindergartens is being carried out 2018–2022. The strategy builds on previous experience and research and aims to raise the proportion of kindergarten teachers and also staff with vocational training as child care and youth workers. It shall provide possibilities for continuous professional development for all staff. The strategy aims also to contribute to raising the number of kindergarten teachers with a relevant masters degree.
The revised competence strategy is an important tool for the implementation of the Framework plan for kindergartens that was established in 2017. Well educated staff are necessary in order to meet the societal mandate of the kindergartens and the requirements in the regulations (including the framework plan).
The strategy points to four priority themes; kindergartens as pedagogical institutions, communication and language, kindergartens as inclusive environments for care, play, learning and formation and values and principles for practice.
The strategy includes targeted measures for different staff; head-teachers, kindergarten teachers, child care and youth workers and assistants.For instance, in order to increase the number of kindergarten teachers, experienced child care and youth workers and assistants can participate in a work-based kindergarten teacher education (ABLU). This type of kindergarten teacher education has been very succesful in obtaining a qualified and stable work-force. The government strategy includes allocations to kindergarten owners to enable their staff to study.
The strategy also includes a decentralised model for competence development in which regional collaboration brings together stakeholders across the sector to develop measures that meet local needs cf. description of this under Schools reform chapter 2.2.
The strategy is being monitored and evaluated with yearly reports throughout the period.