Early childhood education and care in Finland
Child day care in Finland offers children care, education and instruction that help achieve balanced growth, development and learning. It is an integral part of early childhood education and care.
Municipalities provide child day care services in day care centres, in family day care and in group family day care. It is available on a full-time basis (for a maximum of 10 hours a day) and on a part-time basis (for a maximum of 5 hours a day). Private service providers, parishes and NGOs offer alternative opportunities for child care.
The language and culture of each child is taken into consideration. All children who speak Finnish, Swedish or Sami are offered day care services in their mother tongue. Children with other language and cultural backgrounds are supported in collaboration with representatives of their respective cultures. Also the religious beliefs and other basic principles of parents are given due respect in all day care services.
Child day care entitlement and service charges
After the parental leave period, parents are entitled to place their child in public day care
until the child starts school, usually at the age of seven. Application for child day care is done
in the family’s municipality of residence and should be made four months in advance. Where a parent
finds a job or starts studying, their child will be granted a day care placement within a
The fees for municipal child day care are based on the family’s size and income and depend on the requested hours of day care. Charges in private day care are determined by the service provider, but it is possible to receive private care allowance for these expenses.
Local authorities responsible for child day care services
Local authorities must make sure that they are able to offer child day care services to families
with small children. They may provide the services themselves or they may be organised by other
service providers and supervised by the local authorities. The services must be available as
comprehensively as is necessary and in the required form. Local authorities should also attempt to
offer the services at such hours that the families require.
The drafting, administration and steering of legislation governing early childhood education and care were transferred from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to the Ministry of Education and Culture on 1 January 2013.
Laws and regulations
The law on child day care stipulates the entitlement of children to day care and the responsibility of municipalities to arrange day care. The degree on child day care covers its practical arrangement.
The provision of early childhood education and care is based on a national early childhood education and care strategy. Local authorities are responsible for the provision, quality and supervision of early childhood education and care services.
Day care is provided by trained personnel. The qualification of a kindergarten teacher is
a university or university of applied sciences degree. All day-care centre personnel must have at
least an upper secondary-level qualification in social welfare and health
care (ISCED 3). Family day care providers must have a vocational qualification in family day care or other appropriate training.
The qualification requirements of day care staff are stipulated by the decree on child day care and by the law and decree on the qualification requirements of social care professionals.