Friday, September 09, 2005

And a little about child care & school

First a small addendum to yesterday's post about the health care system.

The rule about seven days before needing a doctor's certificate applies to children too, meaning that if your child get's sick, you as the parent/caretaker can stay at home with the child, up to the age of twelve, without loosing a lot of money. The basic rules are the same, except that the company you work for does not have to pay for the first three weeks.

When I wrote about subsidised medicines I forgot to mention that this only applies for prescriptioned medicine.

If I don't always answer your comments, please don't take it as if I ignore you. Sometimes my brain just freezes and I can't come up with a good answer.

Okey, a little about...

...Child care systems

It's just as well to start from the beginning, with pregnancy. I think you all know about the birds and the bees so I'll skip that part. ;o)

From the day a woman suspects that she's pregnant she usually goes to her doctor or midwife for confirmation. If she's pregnant she'll be registered to the nearest mother care center. During pregnancy they take care of just about everything.

If everything is normal the woman usually continues to work up until it's time for the big event. She has the right to stay at home the last four weeks but if her proffession involves a lot of heavy lifting she has the right to demand that her employer relocates her to an easier job. If he can't and her doctor says she should be relocated, she usually can stay at home on sick leave up until the last four weeks.

This is because there is a difference between sick leave and pregnancy leave. For some reason, the last four weeks of a normal pregnancy, are called pregnancy leave and a pregnant woman can't be at home for sickness, unless she's ill in the medical sence of the word.

After the child's birth there is a whole system that kicks in. First of all the child gets registered at a medical child care center and gets it's social security number from national registrations office, which serves under the local taxation office. We call it "personal number". It consists of ten digits in the form of YYMMDD-XXXX. This number is the most important number a person in Sweden can have, since their whole life will depend on it.

The second thing that happens is that the parents get National child allowance. Everyone, rich or poor, get this. For the time being, one child recieves about 80 USD/month up until their 16th birthday. You get the same amount for every child and if you have more than two, you also get what can be translatet into "several children supplement", which is about 23 USD for the third child and 70 USD for the fourth. Add it upp and you end around 450 USD for a family with four children. And yes, Sweden is an expensive country to live in.

Okey, so now we have two new parents. Parents want to spend time with their children, especially newborns. That's why we have maternity leave, or in Sweden more correctly parents leave. This consists of 480 days to be divided between parents as they wish. The father get's ten special days, just for him, unless there are twins. Then he get's twenty days.

These "father's days" can be used at the same time as the mother is on maternity leave, but when they are used up, only one parent can stay at home, normally the mother. The father has the right (soon to be obligation) to stay at home with kids. The system is very flexible since both parents actually can work and stay at home at the same time. If both work part time, that is.

And it applies if you're out of work too.

Now, the cute little baby grows fast and soon enough it's time for the parent/-s to start working or study again. That's why I'm now switching too...

...Day care and school

The first contact outside the home is usually the day care center. Parents leave their children in the morning and pick them up after work. For this parents pay a fee based on their income but there is also a roof for the cost. With one child you pay 3 per cent of your income, but no more than about 115 USD/month. Two children = 2 per cent but no more than 80 USD/month. If you have four, or more, children at the same time in day care it's free. Unless you get twins, you'll be very busy with pregnancy, since day care only applies for children between the ages of 1 to 5.

Next step is pre-school where the fee's slightly lower but the other rules are the same. Ages between 4-6.

Sweden has, internationally, a late age for school. Most children do not begin school until they've passed their sixth birthday, a little depending on which time of the year they are born. My oldest son, LazyWorm, began school at the age of seven, which in his case was good. There are very few private schools, even if the right wingers have tried to change things.

The first three years are called "LÃ¥gstadium" which is the same as junior level in the US.
Then there's "Mellanstadium" which is intermediate or junior high.
And the last three years are called "Högstadium" which is senior level or lower secondary school.

Nine years of education and it's all for free...

Now, you'd like your kids to be real good educated, don't you? Sad to say, those first nine years often feel more like storage for the kids. Nothing wrong about the education itself but many parents don't seem to understand that it's their fucking job to raise the kids, not the teachers.

This is a bit of the down side in Sweden. The governement is seen as some kind of super-parent that should take care of everything. Some people just don't seem to understand that there's still something called personal responsability, which leaves their kids without any guidelines.

Oh, well... The kids eventually have to get their shit together and prepare for next level of education, namely upper level secondary school. If their grades aren't good enough... well, there's always jobs with bad payment to be done.

To get through upper level secondary school normally takes about three years. It's free, but the students have to pay for most of the books and their own food. As a help they get an governement study grant and if they wish a study loan. Most students live at home by their parents to avoid to much loans.

Gotten through upper level secondary most people start to work but some actually continue to college/university. When they're through with that, they're too old to be parents so they become politicians with huge study depts...

Just kidding. Not about the depts though.

If I was to sum up the Swedes in one single word it would be "spoiled"


Crystal-Lynn said...

Hi Pissed Off Pencil! I'm ABB's sister. We just looked at the pictures of your kids and they're too cute! Y'all have got great benefits. My friends with kids in daycare have to pay $400/week -- $1200/mo for an infant -- in full time daycare. And they charge you $5 for every minute you're late picking them up after work.

ABB told me one of your kids is autistic, so you'll relate to the scene we had in the car coming back from McDonald's this evening. The R&B station decided to play a gospel number -- up tempo praise style -- really spiritual -- the kind that gets the whole church sweatty and worked up. And he got "touched by the spirit" as they say in the South and started rocking and singing and carrying on -- almost broke my car seat -- and then he ran into McDonald's happy like a man coming out of a tent revival! It was interesting because we never took him to church for just this reason.

Peace, love and hair grease,
yours truly,