The service structure of early childhood education has changed a lot over the past ten years. Use of early childhood education services has increased by 10% from 2010, and the number of children covered by home care allowance has dropped correspondingly by 8.5%.
The report examines the use and costs of early childhood education services within the framework determined by the applicable legislation. Early childhood education services consist of municipal early childhood education (municipal day care centres and family day care) as well as early childhood education services that are purchased by the municipality as outsourced services, organised by service voucher and supported through private day care allowance. Early childhood education services also include preschool education. The municipal club activities included in open early childhood education are covered by the Kuusikko reporting. For 2020, it has also been essential to take the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic into account with regard to reported matters and information collection.
At the end of 2020, the six largest cities in Finland had 113,462 children in early childhood education age (10 months–6 years), which is 2.6% more than in the previous year. At the end of the year, more than one-third of all children in early childhood education age lived in the six largest cities. At the end of 2020, 78.1% of the early childhood education age children in the six largest cities were covered by early childhood education services and 16.6% by home care allowance.
2020 was an exceptional year
Last year was highly out of the ordinary due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had wide-ranging impacts on the operation of Finnish society, and therefore also early childhood education services, starting from March 2020. The impacts of the coronavirus emergency affected the entire year 2020 and persist even now. During the remote care recommendation issued by the Government (18 March–13 May 2020), only about one-fifth of all registered children participated in the municipal early childhood education provided by the six largest cities. In the autumn, the situation recovered to nearly the normal level. The coronavirus restrictions and guidelines had a massive impact on the organisation methods of early childhood education services, implementation, participation among children, cooperation with parents, HR matters, communications and especially financial matters.
At the end of 2020, the total costs of early childhood education arranged in the municipal day care centres of the six largest cities stood at €10,490 for every calculated child. The differences in the per-child annual costs of municipal day care centres have narrowed over the last ten years.
Early childhood education services and their costs in the six largest cities in 2020 (in Finnish only)
Early Childhood Education Act (in Finnish only)
Kuusikko working group (in Finnish only)
Photo: Jonna Pennanen, City of Helsinki Media Bank.