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Early childhood education in daycare centres

The city has about 300 Finnish-language daycare centres and about 50 Swedish-language daycare centres. In addition, daycare centre Susanna provides early childhood education in North Sami. Municipal daycare centres are open between 6.15 and 17.30.

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Helsinki offers a diverse learning environment for your child and opportunities for experience-based activities and learning.

Children having a meal at a playground
Photo: Konsta Linkola

Round-the-clock daycare centres and part-time daycare groups

If you have to work or attend studies in the evening, at night, or in the weekend, we can provide your child with round-the-clock early childhood education. Your child can also spend part of the day in a part-time daycare group.

We provide children with early childhood education in the evening, at night and at the weekend for the duration of the guardians’ regular shift work or studies.

We consider your need for this type of care regular if your child requires early childhood education in the evening, at night or at the weekend for five days a month on average during a three-month period. If your need for this type of care is not significant, we will provide early childhood education for your child at a normal daycare centre or in family daycare. If you need round-the-clock care, we will provide it for your child at a round-the-clock daycare centre as necessary. If you apply for a place at a round-the-clock daycare centre or in a part-time daycare group, we require both guardians living in the same household to provide a certificate of their shift work or studies.

Round-the-clock daycare centres are open around the clock on all days of the week. 

Daycare centres open in the evening are open on weekdays (Mon–Fri) from 6.15 to 21.00 or 22.00.

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A part-time daycare group can be a good fit for your child if the child has younger siblings at home or regularly requires fewer hours of care per day because of your job. The activities and group size are determined based on the children’s age and number, and the early childhood education teacher is responsible for the group’s pedagogical activities.

The group also participates in all joint events at the daycare centre.

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Temporary early childhood education means having your child attend daycare for a short-term need. Apply for temporary early childhood education by filling out the application to early childhood education (PDF). Submit the paper form by post to the following address: Service Guidance for Early Childhood Education, Töysänkatu 2 D, P.O. Box 51300, 00099 City of Helsinki.

Receiving child home care allowance or private daycare allowance or having an early childhood education place in another municipality is not an obstacle to temporary early childhood education. A fixed fee will be charged for temporary early childhood education.
 

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Information for parents and guardians

Before a child starts daycare, the group teacher has a discussion with the guardians. This discussion gives you a chance to tell the teacher what kind of person your child is and what your expectations and hopes for daycare are. The daycare staff will also tell you how the group operates, what its daily schedule is and what type of clothing your child will need, for example.

You can arrange the dates of your child’s familiarisation with the group with the daycare staff. This familiarisation period usually lasts for roughly a week, but it can also be shorter or longer, depending on the child’s individual needs. The child first gets to know the group together with their parent, guardian or another close adult.

If the child is transferred from one group to another, they can play with and familiarise themselves with the children and adults in the new group in advance.

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The City of Helsinki’s daycare centres are open on weekdays between 6.15 and 17.30, according to the families’ needs. In order to ensure enough personnel, we will agree on the regular start and end times for your child’s need for care in advance. You must notify your daycare centre or care provider a week in advance about any irregular hours or exceptions.

If you would like to shorten or extend your child's daily care hours, please contact your daycare centre or care provider two weeks in advance at the latest. The need for shorter care hours must continue for at least three months of attendance. If the family’s need for shorter care hours lasts for less than three months, we will collect the client fee for longer hours of care retroactively.

We will extend your child's care hours immediately if the need for longer hours of care is caused by the parent or guardian’s unexpected employment, studies or training. Unfortunately, we are not always able to offer longer care hours for your child at the daycare centre you are familiar with.

A family can have regular and refundable absences 4–12 times a month.

Read more about early childhood education fees

 

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Every child in early childhood education has the right to receive education and care that is systematic and goal-oriented, as guaranteed by the Act on Early Childhood Education. In order to achieve this, we draw up an individual early childhood education plan for every child at a daycare centre or in family daycare together with the child and the parents or guardians. The plan sets goals for the daycare activities in order to promote the systematic education and care provided for the child.

The child’s early childhood education teacher is responsible for creating and evaluating the child’s individual early childhood education plan. In addition to a discussion and the writing process, the plan takes the child’s strengths, needs and own views into account.  The child’s previous early childhood education plan can also be reviewed. The child’s entire education and care team take part in the process, and the creation, observations, documentation and evaluation are conducted multi-professionally.

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Every child who needs support for learning and development has the right to receive it.

Early childhood education ensures that children feel accepted and receive feelings of accomplishment to strengthen their positive self-image.

The observation of the child’s need for support, and the planning, implementation and evaluation of the support are conducted together with the guardians and, if necessary, other experts working with the child and the family.

If your child needs support for learning and development, inform the daycare centre or early childhood education provider of this in your application for early childhood education.

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Cooperation with guardians aims at both the guardians and the daycare centre staff mutually committing to promote the child’s healthy and safe growth, learning and development.

Guardians have the option of setting up parent committees that support and complement the child's early childhood education. A parent committee appoints a chair and treasurer from among the children's guardians.

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As a rule, municipal daycare centres are closed on mid-week holidays.

Mid-week holidays that might affect the opening hours:
New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Ascension Day, Midsummer’s Eve, Midsummer’s Day, All Saints’ Day, Independence Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

For more information on how mid-week holidays affect the opening hours, please contact your child’s daycare centre.
 

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When a child in daycare stays home for the paternity allowance period, the right to the same daycare placement is retained and the monthly payment is reduced based on the days of absence. The parents must deliver Kela's decision on the paternity leave to the daycare unit so that the interruption in care can be recorded.

The daycare unit must be notified of an absence caused by a paternity allowance period no later than two weeks before the intended start date.

The maximum length of the paternity allowance period is 54 weekdays (incl. Saturday), and it is provided when the child is less than two years old. The paternity leave can be divided into no more than four 1–18 weekday periods. Paternity leave following the parental allowance period can be divided into two periods.

More information 
Paternity leave on the Kela website (opens in new tab)  
Circular of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (in Finnish, opens in new tab)

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The municipality the family lives in is responsible for organising a place in early education if the place has been applied for four months before the need for early education begins.

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen have an agreement of organising early education if the child is attending municipal early education and the family moves within these cities. Early childhood education can be organised in the previous city of residence until the end of the next autumn term (ends on 31 December) or spring term (ends on 30 July) following the move, up to the start of pre-primary education. The family will receive a new, fixed-term early childhood education decision.

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Practical information about daycare centres

Common practices at municipal daycare centres.

Always agree in advance with the daycare staff about the arrangements for picking up the child from daycare. If the child has more than one home, the staff will agree on the arrangements for picking up the child separately with the guardians.

The staff will assess the safety of the journey home based on the information available to them when the child is about to leave. This safety assessment takes into account factors such as the child’s age and skills, the ability of the person picking up the child to ensure the child’s safety, the length of the journey home, and any exceptional circumstances.

Contacting the guardians and contact details

It is important that your contact information is always up to date at the daycare centre or other care provider. If a child is not picked up from daycare by the time that has been agreed upon, the daycare centre will contact the guardians and the person who was supposed to pick up the child. If the daycare staff are unable to contact the guardians, they will try to reach the other persons permitted by agreement to pick up the child.

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Your child will spend time outdoors in all types of weather at the daycare centre. In addition to weather-appropriate outdoor clothing, your child will need clothing and shoes to wear indoors. To avoid mix-ups and items going missing at daycare, please make sure to put a name tag on all your child's clothing and equipment. During the initial discussion held at the start of daycare, the staff will tell you what type of clothing your child will need.

The City of Helsinki is not liable for any damages to or loss of property. The daycare centre staff will take as good care of the children’s personal strollers, bicycles and toys as possible, but they cannot be kept in a locked or secure facility.

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Palvelukeskus Helsinki is responsible for providing the meals, with some exceptions. The city's daycare centres have a shared menu. Daycare centres offering round-the-clock care also have their own menu. 

See the menus for daycare centres and round-the-clock daycare centres (opens in new tab). In Restaurant type choose 'Päiväkotien ruokalistat' and in Restaurant choose 'Päiväkodit' for daycare centres. For round-the -clock daycare centres, choose 'Päiväkodit, vuorohoito'. 

Helsinki also wants to offer nutritionally balanced and tasty food for children on special diets. We can arrange a special diet for your child for health-related or religious reasons. You can notify the daycare centre director about your child’s special diet with the form provided for this purpose. 

If your child has severe allergies to any foods or ingredients, please provide the daycare centre with a medical certificate concerning a special diet.

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After morning activities, spending time outdoors and eating a meal, the children will take a nap or listen to a story or music. Naptime routines at the daycare centre help the children calm down and rest. While some of the children need to take a nap, rest/storytime is enough for others. The daycare centre staff can tell you more about the naptime practices.

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When a child falls ill

Please do not take your child to daycare if the child is ill. If a child falls ill during the day, the daycare staff will notify the guardian, who must pick up the child as soon as possible. If a child falls ill with severe symptoms, the daycare staff will take the child to the nearest health station or a hospital’s outpatient clinic. The guardian is responsible for the child’s further treatment.

The child can return to the daycare centre once the child is able to participate in the activities and there is no risk of infection.

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If your child needs to take medication while in daycare, please provide the daycare staff with a doctor's written instructions on how to administer the medication. If necessary, the child’s guardians can discuss arrangements for the child’s medication (such as diabetes or asthma medication) with healthcare and early childhood education staff on a case-by-case basis.

A child with an acute illness can return to the daycare centre or family daycare while still taking medication, after a sufficient recovery period. The staff will administer the medication labelled with the child’s name to the child according to the doctor’s instructions on the right dosage. Daycare staff do not give homoeopathic products to children in daycare.

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Accidents

In the event of an accident, daycare staff will immediately administer first aid to the child and notify the guardians about the incident as soon as possible. If the accident leads to a need for further treatment, daycare staff will take the child either to the nearest health station, dental clinic or the Paediatric Emergency Department at New Children's Hospital, depending on the nature of the accident.

If the child requires aid devices after the accident, the unit supervisor and the guardians will assess the child’s ability to participate in the daycare centre’s activities together.

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The City of Helsinki has taken out insurance on the children in early childhood education. The insurance company will cover any treatment costs arising from an accident, based on the fees charged for public healthcare. The insurance company will also cover the costs of a private service to which the patient is referred to by public healthcare services.

Neither the insurance policy nor the City of Helsinki will cover any loss of profits arising from the arrangement of home care for a child.

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