Applying for early childhood education

Apply for a municipal early childhood education place at least four months before you want your child to start attending - even if you are still looking for work, a study place or an apartment in Helsinki. On this page you will find instructions on how to apply and the grounds for getting a place in early childhood education.

On this page

Your child can start in early chilhood education the month they turn 9 months old, at the earliest.

Applications for early childhood education are primarily submitted on the Asti online service, which requires using a strong authentication method.

Apply for early childhood education on Asti online service

Guardians can apply for a place for their child in municipal early childhood education and pre-primary education on the Asti online service.

Places in club activities are applied for on the City of Helsinki E-services.

How the process works

The application form includes instructions on how to fill in the form. Missing or incorrect information is marked in red on each page.  

The application form lets you move forward once all required fields are filled in. You can save the application as a draft and edit it later. The draft will be deleted when you submit the application. After submitting the application, you can edit it until it will be locked three months before the need for the service, or sooner if your case is urgent.    The submitted application is saved in the Asti online service. The service will notify you if it is sent successfully. You can monitor the application status in the system. The status of a submitted application that is awaiting processing is Submitted. Submitted applications can be edited until the application is locked. When the processing of the application starts, the status of the application changes to In Process.    An official decision is always made regarding an application for early childhood starting from the start date of the service and, where possible, from the options proposed by the family.    The decision on the early childhood education place can be viewed electronically by the child's guardians on Asti.   You can delete your application before a decision is made. The status of a deleted application is Deleted. It is then removed from the system.     If you wish to make changes to the application during the processing time, please call the Service guidance for early childhood education.

Processing time

The processing time of an application is up to 4 months, unless you indicate a later start date for the service. Applications are taken into processing about 2 months before the desired start date.

Validity period

The application is valid for 12 months from the date it was submitted.

Note the location of the fee decisions.

Decisions on fees are delivered to the City of Helsinki's Edlevo e-service to the guardian who submitted the application.  You can log in to Edlevo at hel.fi/vakapalvelu. These decisions are not delivered to the same system as the early childhood education decision, so make sure to check the Edlevo e-service for the client fee decisions.     Payment and other decisions concerning early childhood education in Helsinki can be accessed via the new Edlevo e-service from 8 April 2024 onwards.

Additional information

An application for early childhood education can be submitted 12 months before the desired start date. 
  People living outside Helsinki can also apply for an early childhood education place, on the condition that the family must officially live in Helsinki by the beginning of the early childhood education. 

Links

Use the online service

Fill in an application on Asti

Service available every day around the clock
Requires authentication.

Applying for early childhood education with paper application

You can use the paper form to apply for early childhood education if you or your family do not have Finnish personal identity codes or online banking credentials, you and your family are unable to apply online for other reasons, or a member of your family has a non-disclosure for personal safety reasons.

Return the paper application by post to the following address: Service guidance for early childhood education, Työpajankatu 8, PO Box 58300, 00099 City of Helsinki. We also accept paper applications at playgrounds (except playgrounds Seppä, Loru and Santahamina).

You can also send the paper application via secure mail if you have Finnish personal identity codes. In this case the Finnish personal identity code is also sent to the recipient.

When you apply by paper form, a place can be granted at the earliest four months from the date the paper application is received by the Service guidance for early childhood education.

How the process works

Families moving to Helsinki from abroad or another city: We recommend you apply for a place in early childhood education before you move to Helsinki. You can apply from abroad or from another city with the paper application, even if you do not yet have an address in Helsinki or a Finnish personal identity code. Your personal details can be edited later.

Links

Applying

Apply for a municipal early childhood education place at least four months before you want your child to start attending - even if you are still looking for work, a study place or an apartment in Helsinki. 

The earliest time you can apply is one year before your child needs a place. Your application will be kept in file for one year at a time. If your child needs a place in municipal early childhood education unexpectedly, you should apply for a place as soon as possible but no later than two weeks before. In this case, you are asked to prove that the need is urgent.

You can apply for early childhood education at the earliest from the beginning of the calendar month in which your child turns nine months old. A child under one year of age takes up more resources of care staff than a child over one year of age. You should be prepared for the fact that finding a free early childhood education place in a daycare centre you prefer can be more challenging than usual if the child is under one year old.

Early childhood education places can also be applied for by those living outside Helsinki. A requirement for being granted a place is that the family’s place of residence is in Helsinki when the early childhood education starts.

The Act on Early Childhood Education and Care obligates the municipality to arrange an early childhood education place in the municipality. Helsinki’s goal is to provide early childhood education places in accordance with the guardians’ preferences, but in some areas and at some daycare centres there are relatively few places for the number of applicants. The situations here vary from week to week and month to month. 

If we are unable to offer a place that matches your preferences, we will offer you the closest free place available in Helsinki. If all your preferences in the application are all Finnish-language daycare centres, you will be offered the closest free place at a Finnish-language daycare centre. If your preferences are all Swedish-language daycare centres, you will be offered the closest free place at a Swedish-language daycare centre. If your preferences include a mix of both Finnish- and Swedish-language daycare centres, you will be offered the closest free place in the city, regardless of the main language of the daycare centre.

Children whose guardians have shared custody and live in different municipalities can be granted a place only for the days the child lives with the guardian with an address in Helsinki. When the guardian living in Helsinki applies for early childhood education for the child, the guardian must indicate the number of free days (when the child attends early childhood education in the other guardian's municipality).If the child has another guardian living at another address, the guardian submitting the application must ensure that the other guardian is aware of the application. The decision will be delivered to both guardians.

When applying, please note that most daycare centres and family day care will be closed for the summer holidays 21.6-28.7.2024. We will update information on summer arrangements during March and April.

You must always apply for early childhood education 4 months in advance or as soon as you plan to move, apply for a job or a study place. In the Asti online service, your application will be locked approximately 3 months before the desired start date, eliminating the possibility to make changes. 

If you need early childhood education due to sudden and unforeseen circumstances (2 weeks–4 months before the need), you must apply as soon as possible and no later than 2 weeks before the desired start date. Both parents or guardians must attach certificates or other proofing documents to the application when you submit it. The certificate of at least one parent or guardian must indicate the unforeseen circumstances. Your application will not be processed until we have received the necessary attachments. If you do not submit acceptable certificates, the application may be refused.

Unforeseen circumstances may include

  • a job or student place designated by the TE Office (Employment and Economic Development Office)
  • obtaining a study place due to someone else cancelling/from a waiting list
  • the end of a temporary lay-off
  • or other similar circumstances.

In the event of unforeseen circumstances, you must provide a certificate issued by the employer regarding the unforeseen employment or a certificate from an educational institution about obtaining a study place from the waiting list. An employment contract or a certificate of student status is not sufficient. 

Unforeseen circumstances do not include

  • the end of parental leave
  • moving from another municipality to Helsinki (unless required by the employer)

If you need early childhood education due to sudden and unforeseen circumstances, you should be prepared for the fact that you may get an early childhood education place further away from your home than what is usual.
 

Instructions for guardians: How to apply for an early childhood education place on Asti

Instructions for guardians: How to apply for an early childhood education place on Asti.

Grounds for getting a place in early childhood education

Places in early childhood education are allocated based on the criteria laid down by the Education Sub-Committee (PDF in Finnish)(Link leads to external service).

  1. Whenever possible, your child is allocated an early childhood education place based on your first choice.
  2. Your child is allocated a place at a daycare centre or early childhood education unit close to your home, taking into account the places available. We also consider the start date on which your child needs the service. When processing applications, we view the applicants’ start dates in two-week batches, respecting the statutory four-month period within which a place must be allocated.
  3. We also take into account the extent of the need for care, i.e. the number of care hours you need for your child when allocating places. If there are more applicants for a childcare location than there are places:
  • Places are primarily allocated to those who have a sibling in the same daycare centre or childcare unit. The sibling principle concerns those who have a sibling in early childhood education, but not in pre-primary education. If a child starts pre-primary education in August 2024, the sibling principle for a younger sibling ends at the end of July 2024.
  • If the applicants have the same start date and the sibling criterion is met, the place will be allocated to the child who lives closest to the location according to the HSL route guide. 
  • Your start date of the service affects the allocation of places.

What happens after I have submitted my application?

You will receive the decision at the latest one month before your child needs a place in early childhood education. Early childhood education and the related invoicing will begin on the date stated in the decision. We will send the decision to your online service folder on Asti. If you have submitted your application on a paper, we will send the decision to you by post. 

If your child’s early childhood education starts in August, you will receive the decision in June. 


If you are not happy with the place allocated to your child, you can apply for a transfer to another early childhood education location on Asti(Link leads to external service).

Accept the place if

  • your child will start in early childhood education as stated in the decision
  • there were not free places for your child in the early childhood education location you preferred, and the need for care starts on the date you have stated. After accepting the place, you can submit a transfer application to the location you prefer.
  • you wish to make a claim for rectification (Find instructions for claim for rectification in the decision).

Do not accept the place if

  • you do not need the early childhood education place granted to your child and stated in the decision. If necessary, you can submit a new application and your application will be processed according to the four-month legal basis.

If the family is unhappy with the place in early childhood education, you should let us know in one week’s time from receiving the decision.

  • Accept an early childhood education place on the Asti online service or by contacting the daycare centre manager if you received the decision in paper. If you do not accept the offered place, let us know on the Asti online service as soon as possible, and no later than two weeks before the start of the service.

Early childhood education and the related invoicing will begin on the date stated in the decision. If you do not accept a place offered to you, let us know via the Asti online service as soon as possible and no later than two weeks before the start of your child’s early childhood education. For an uncancelled place, we will charge half of the monthly early childhood education fee, and the decision on early childhood education will expire a week from the start date.

You can submit a new application for an early childhood education place. This will start a new processing period of up to four months.