Objectives and accessibility
The two main forms of ECEC in Finland are centre-based ECEC and family daycare. Same authorities, legislation and national core curriculum steer both forms of ECEC. Also the funding model and fees are the same.
The forms differ, however, in terms of their learning environments, qualification requirements for personnel, personnel structures, group sizes as well as the children to personnel ratio. Family day care is provided in the family daycare childminder’s own home or in a premise designated by the municipality.
The child’s legal entitlement can be for a place in an early education centre or in a family daycare premise depending on both supply and demand, i.e. on availability of places in each setting and parents’ preferences.
The share of family daycare has significantly decreased over the past two decades. In 2021, around 6 % of all children (0-6 years) in ECEC were enrolled in family daycare (Source: Vipunen - Education Statistics Finland) . Family daycare is more common among the youngest age groups. There are also big differences between municipalities as regards the offer of family daycare.
Requirements for childminders and child ratios
In family daycare, one childminder can care for up to 4 children including their own children under school-age (under age 7) on a full-day basis as well as for one preprimary or school-age child on a part-day basis. It is possible for two or three childminders to work together in a family daycare premise. The maximum group size in family daycare with three adults is 12 children.
Family daycare staff are required to have the vocational qualification of family childminder (ISCED 3) or other suitable training. If there are 3 childminders in a family daycare premise, at least one of them must be a qualified childcarer in ECEC.
Under the Act on ECEC (540/2018), ECEC providers must ensure that the ECEC staff participates sufficiently in continuous professional development that maintains and develops their professional skills. The same requirement concerns both centre- and home-based ECEC staff.