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Swedish millions to fund nighttime childcare

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14:56 CEST+02:00
The government has put aside 108 million kronor ($16.3 million) to support having childcare facilities open during nights and weekends, a scheme that will come into effect in 2013 and last for three years.

“Working life is changing and many people are working evenings, weekends and nights,” said Nyamko Sabuni, the minister in charge of pre-schooling, to the TT news agency.

“Families can't always combine work and family life. It can be especially difficult for single mothers.”

According to the plan, municipalities can apply for the incentive from July 1st in 2013, a year which will see 15.5 million kronor invested into the programme, with 31 million set aside for each of the following three years.

The current laws state that it is not mandatory for municipalities to provide childcare during “inconvenient times”. However, as many municipalities did not offer the service at all, a stimulus package was put forward to the Riksdag last spring.

At the time, the parties of the governing centre-right Alliance government voted against the plan, stating that proof was needed of a more urgent need for the increase in opening hours, something that hasn't come until now.

However, the measure nevertheless passed, leading to today's announcement by Sabuni.

Per-Arne Andersson, who deals with labour market issues at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) is satisfied with the news.

“This is better than nothing, and a way for the government to speed up the development. There are now more than half of the municipalities offering childcare at inconvenient times,” he told TT.

So far the expansion of preschools offering inconvenient-hour services has been quite slow.

But this year around 30 municipalities have been added to the group offering childcare in the evenings, nights and weekends, according to a former TT poll.

Another dozen are discussing or have firm plans for the schooling.

TT/The Local/og

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