Nearly 700 hundred children aged 12 months and older are currently waitlisted for places in preschools around Reykjavík, RÚV reports.
Parents of waitlisted children gathered at Reykjavík City Hall on Friday to protest the situation. Speaking to reporters, they explained the difficulties of finding childcare during the workday. One parent noted that he’d gone through the same situation with his first child five years ago, but said the process was even worse now. Another father described splitting babysitting duties between his child’s grandparents—three days a week with his father, two days a week with his mother—while he worked night shifts in order to ensure that neither he nor his partner needed to cut back on working hours in order to be able to take care of their toddler. A mother said that after calling preschools all over the city, she’d tried to find a professional childminder to watch her baby during the workday, but there were extensive waitlists with all of these individuals as well.
According to data provided by the City of Reykjavík, of the 669 children waitlisted for spots in local preschools, 60 are currently enrolled in private preschools until places can be found for them in city-run facilities. It’s assumed that many of the waitlisted children are in the daily care of privately employed childminders, but no information is available on how many at this time.
As of Friday, the city was preparing to allocate 200 more preschool spots, leaving 470 eligible children in limbo. City officials have said it may be possible to accept more children into preschools in the coming months and that efforts are being made to increase the number of available spots. Speaking to reporters on Friday, however, Mayor Dagur B. Eggertson said the city couldn’t make any promises that the youngest children on the waitlist would be placed or that parents who want to place their children in a specific preschool will be able to be accommodated.