In this article we explain
- where you can enroll your child in nursery and kindergarten in Hungary;
- whether it is compulsory for your child to go to school or to kindergarten;
- if he or she is entitled to food allowance and for how long;
- how the Hungarian school system works with focus to nursery and kindergarten.
If you are a parent residing in Hungary with a child for more than three months, the following questions and answers might be important to you no matter whether you are an asylum seeker, have an asylum status, have dual nationality or residence permit.
Can my child join the public education system in Hungary?
As a parent, you have the right to use the services provided by the Hungarian public education system for your child. This means that Hungarian schools, nurseries and kindergartens must accept your child. You can also use the services of the Biztos Kezdet Gyerekház. This organization helps children to get better integrated in the kindergarten.
What are my responsibilities as a parent?
- In Hungary, children over the age of 3 are required by law to attend kindergarten or school, until the age of 16 This means that no child over the age of 3 can stay at home.
- For the same reason, you are obliged to enroll your child in the kindergarten or school of the place where you live.
- You are also obliged to ensure and supervise your child's attendance at school or at the kindergarten. This means that you have to make sure that he or she always gets to school or kindergarten.
What are the consequences if you do not comply with these obligations?
The law states that all Ukrainian refugees who receive any kind of benefit in Hungary are obliged to enroll their children in kindergarten from the age of 3. According to the law, if you fail to enroll your child within this time, you will lose your entitlement for financial aid. Although practice does not always seem to follow this, the law provides for legal actions against the parent and even a prison sentence.
A nursery is an institution for the daily care of children aged 0-3, and it is not compulsory to enroll your childern in.
It is intended for the children of working parents, but is also available for other reasons (e.g. a child at risk due to social circumstances, a child of a single parent, a parent's illness, etc.).
The nursery care’s price is established on the basis of the family's income (it may also be free of charge on grounds of need).
What should I do if my child is not admitted to the nursery because there are no places available?
If the institution is 100% full at the time of the application, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and the Ministry will examine your case individually.
The kindergarten gives care for children from the age of 3 until they start school, and it is compulsory.
Children who turn three years old by August 31st of a given year must attend kindergarten for a minimum of four hours per day starting from the beginning of the school year on September 1st.
Where should my child go to kindergarten?
Kindergarten care must be provided by the district kindergarten of the place of your residence. You can find your kindergarten here. (Instructions on how to use the kindergarten search in Ukrainian here: video)
You will need to submit an application to the kindergarten you found in this way.
What if they don't want to admit my child to kindergarten because he or she doesn't have a social security number?
If the kindergarten refuses your admission because of a missing social security number, you can contact TASZ.HU for legal help.
What costs should I expect?
- In kindergartens, there are costs of meals and group money (this is for programs like puppet theatre, ice skating, outings, etc.). Some kindergartens even ask parents for a clean-up pack and fruit money. The amounts to be paid vary depending on the place. Some families in need are exempted from this.
- Refugee children attending nursery, kindergarten or school are entitled to free meals for 6 months, both in the institution and during breaks. You can apply for this at the institution. After that period, they can eat for free if they have at least two siblings, or if they or their siblings are disabled or have a low family income.
- Young children are entitled to receive meals for free if the monthly income per person in your family does not exceed 130% of the minimum net wage. So, with the increase in the minimum wage to HUF 232 000 gross from 1 January 2023, those whose monthly family income per person is less than HUF 200 500 will also be eligible for free meals.
If you are interested in the school system, read our next article on primary and secondary schools!
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Our articles are validated, but the information provided does not cover every specific case.