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Daycare 'punch clocks' catch on in Sweden

Joel Linde · 14 Sep 2011, 14:09

Published: 14 Sep 2011 14:09 GMT+02:00

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Toddlers punching the clock is no longer a strange sight in Malå municipality in northern Sweden, where the “Nuddis” system was recently introduced to make it easier to individualize daycare fees.

“It’s become a natural part of their day, to ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’,” Hanna Åkesson, an investigator with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), told The Local.

“It’s like pushing the elevator button, they think it’s fun.”

Anders Bergström, head of childcare and education in Malå municipality where the daycare 'time clocks' were recently introduced, downplayed the significance of the new system.

“It’s the same principal as before, but a new system,” he said.

Bergström explained that, back in the 1990s, Malå adopted a policy that parents should only pay for the time their children are actually present at daycare.

In 2001, the concept was developed further with the introduction of maximum fees how much a family would end up paying to have their kids attend municipality-run daycare centres.

For a first child, the fee was 1260 kronor ($190), then 840 kronor for the second, and 420 kronor for the third. Any child after that would be free of charge.

However, the system was still flawed, according to Bergström, becoming too expensive for some families, and leaving personnel swamped with administrative work.

“Parents could have their children out of daycare for a month and still get the childcare bill,” Bergström said.

“Now you only pay for the time you use. We lose some revenue, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages."

Åkesson is also positive to the use of the new system, especially since it provides a unique chance for attendance statistics and thus planning, whereas the old system only showed estimates.

“For parents in Malå this is a big advantage,” she said.

“If they’re sick or on vacation... you don’t pay for the time the children aren’t there.”

Before the system was introduced, parents paid in advance for how long they estimated their children to be at daycare.

This often lead to discussions about whether the kids were there longer than what had been paid for.

Now, according to Åkesson, that’s not an issue.

Story continues below…

Despite the fact that data about children's daycare attendance is collected and stored by municipal officials as well as by the company that produces the "Nuddis" technology, Åkessson also downplayed concerns that the system could be seen as an overly intrusive surveillance tool.

“As long as you know what it’s all about, I think it’s very harmless,” Åkesson said.

“It’s not about any form of follow up on the kids, like in the old days of manufacturing. It’s about lower costs for parents and less administrative work for personnel.”

According to the TT news agency, the concept of daycare 'punch clocks' is catching on, with the system already up and running in Bjurholm in northern Sweden.

In addition, a number of other municipalities in northern Sweden, incluing Vilhelmina, Storuman, Norsjö and Sorsele, are in the process of implementing the system.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:23 September 14, 2011 by bjorkon
Reminds me of paying for dinner at a restaurant IN Sweden : "You had the steak .. and that was 480kr. I only had the soup" .. where's the social spirit? Its all massively subsidized by everyone else anyway ..
17:36 September 14, 2011 by Addendum
So, the state takes and keeps blood samples of every child born in Sweden. Homeschooling is now outlawed. Mandatory dagis has been proposed, beginning with babes of 18 months of age. And pre-schoolers punch a clock for the state which tracks their where-abouts... John Waters, please do a film on Sweden and its Ladies' Fascism League...
17:50 September 14, 2011 by summo
if the staff can't keep track of which kids are arriving and which have gone home later in the day, it's doesn't say very much about their ability to supervise in a childcare environment.

A very simple chart with a tick box for roughly what time each kids arrives and departs. Apart from which just charge by the half day, 0730-1200, 1201-1730 or whatever, easy. If parents want to drop Sven off at 1036hrs and pick him up at 1443hrs, that's a full day please! :) It's a bargain price anyway, so folk can't complain.
18:34 September 14, 2011 by riose
My girlfriend worked at a daycare, and there were parents arriving 30 min to 1 hour late always.

I think that is why they are implementing it, @bjorkon, to protect the workers.
19:56 September 14, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I think the security potential is awesome! Add the clock with fingerprint or iris recognition for both the kids and those authorized for pickup. Log them out to the play yard and back in again... on and off the computer, etc. As a parent, I would like to make sure that no unauthorized "aunt or uncle" walked away with my child.

Every few weeks we read about a forgotten child, one locked in last week, or escaped during rast. We used a Montesori school back in Los Angeles, and abduction was always a huge fear. More daycare facilities in the states also now provide online live video access to classrooms (exclusive for parents).
20:32 September 14, 2011 by summo
DG, I think you getting carried away, GPS trackers, with GPRS link to parent mobiles?

Riose, you don't have kids do you, sometimes with 2 kids being only 30mins is a success! does it matter if they late, bill them the full session anyway, problem solved. You need to see the solution, not the problem.
21:29 September 14, 2011 by Taxlady
Beyond this point of clocking in, it amazes me that people have kids and just hand them over to strangers to be brought up in alien daycare centres....some of us have them to raise them ourselves.We plan them and activities around them so that we can be there for them while they are so young.

How do we know what really happens to our little ones when they are raised by strangers? Do you monitor if there are weird things going on? How do you really know? Surely young parents aren't that stupid....
07:47 September 15, 2011 by summo
taxlady, you live in US don't you, have you ever left?

Surely young parents aren't so stupid as to closet their kids from the world and prevent them from growing up with people the same age, making mistakes and having little accidents. Otherwise they'll grow up as insecure as their parents? ;)
11:07 September 15, 2011 by nuke
Could become like McDonalds - the kids sign out every time the staff disappear for a coffee or are off sick without substitutes.
15:25 September 15, 2011 by riose
@summo No, I don't have any. And you do not work at a daycare, otherwise you will think that it is your job, not your life. If they want you to work more, they should pay more.

If they are not willing to pay more, they should be on time. And there is when the punch clock comes into play.

It is not to control the kids, it is to control the parents. People confuse liberty with license.
11:27 September 19, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
I really do think that Sweden is outdoing Japan on this one. This is WAY too regimented. However, in a nation like Japan where people take only a week for an annual vacation, and where children go to school 6 days a week, including Saturdays, Sweden really should be marketing this idea to the Japanese. And why not just make those little pre-schoolers wear watches so that they keep close track of the time and insure that the timeclocks are functioning properly so mum doesn't get screwed over by the system?
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