children playing

Learning across borders: What can Canada learn from Danish early childhood education and care?

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Publication Date: 
31 May 2023

Many thanks to the Re-imagining Care/Work project, a Partnership Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for support. CRRU is a community partner on the project, and Martha Friendly is one of the research investigators. We also extend warm thanks to the Canadian Mothercraft Society for the support and collaboration they provided.


On May 31st, 2023, the Childcare Resource and Research Unit (CRRU) was very pleased to be able to host a group of child care community members to learn from and exchange views with a delegation of four Danish municipal child care officials. Municipalities play a number of key roles in the Danish universal ECEC system including operation of a majority of child care services, management of local child care systems, ongoing quality improvement, provision of professional development, research and evaluation and policy development. The presenters' bios can be found at the bottom of this page.

In the first part of the presentation, Merete Villsen and Mia Wæver walked us through how the ECEC system works in Denmark, including: the legislation, type of ECEC facilities, staff-child ratios, inspection and ECEC staff education. 

In the second part of the presentation, Heidi Bak Nielsen and Lars Falbe Hansen introduced the vision of the Ikast-Brande Municipality on quality and the Potential Profile—a tool focusing on the child care workforce they have developed to guide pedagogical interventions, ongoing quality improvement and reflective practice.

They also shared a short video about Danish forest kindergartens and discussed how this concept fits with Danish ECEC pedagogy. 

The event was recorded and CRRU has put together the materials provided by the Danish experts (slides and video) with edited audio and video content from the event. 

Many many thanks to Merete, Lars, Heidi and Mia for sharing so much food for thought with us in Canada at a time of exploration of ideas and possibilities for building our early learning and child care system.

Event recordings and relevant materials

Part 1: How the universal ECEC system in Denmark works?

Part 2: Potential profile - tailored interventions

Video: Denmark's forest kindergarten

Video: Danish ECEC - Potential profile

Presenters' bios

Heidi Bak Nielsen, development consultant and project leader

  • Qualified Pedagogue (ECE)
  • Certified in ICDP (International Childhood Development Programme) level 1 and 2.
  • Diploma in specialized pedagogy
  • Master’s degree in social integration (MSI)
  • Project Leader and development consultant in the project The Potential Profile, which in 2015 received a ”Best Practice Certificate” in the “European Public Sector Award” in the category “Innovative knowledge and new leadership approaches”.

Merete Villsen, Manager of the Early Childcare Department in Ikast-Brande Municipality

  • Member of the national board of The Children and Cultural Directors in municipalities
  • Chair of the national network for Managers of Childcare Departments
  • Board member of the regional children’s culture centre
  • Kiol Executive –a high end public leadership course
  • Master in public management
  • Qualified Pedagogue

Mia Wæver, development consultant

  • Implementation expert
  • Process facilitator
  • Diploma modules in pedagogy
  • Candidate in policy and administration
  • 17 years of experience working for the Danish daycare system on a municipal level.

Lars Falbe Hansen, administrative support

  • Commercial and clerical education (HHX)
  • Has worked with the financial side of Early Childhood Education in different municipalities for 20 years