Children's right to early childhood education and care

Keinussa. KUVA:OKMThe right of children to early childhood education and care (ECEC) and the objectives for ECEC are laid down in the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care. A child's parents or other guardians decide whether their child participates in early childhood education and care. However, pre-primary education that precedes compulsory education is obligatory.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that early childhood education and care is available to their residents and that it meets the needs of families and is arranged and supervised by the local authorities.

Every child has the right to 20 hours of early childhood education and care a week. If the child's parents or other guardians work or study full-time, work as entrepreneurs or are self-employed on a full-time basis, their child has the right to full-day early childhood education and care.

A child also has the right to full-day early childhood education and care where it is necessary for the child's development, where the child needs the provided support, where the family conditions so require, or where it is otherwise in the child's best interests. If a parent becomes unemployed the child’s right to full-day early childhood education and care remains effective for a period of two months.

When necessary, a child has the right to more than 20 hours of early childhood education and care if the child's parent or other guardian works part-time, has temporary work periods, is involved in labour market measures, is in rehabilitation or where other similar reasons exist.

Local authorities establish the schedules and practices for early childhood education and care.  

Applications for a place in a child daycare centre or in family daycare are submitted to the local authorities of the family’s municipality of residence four months before the place is needed. Where a parent unexpectedly finds a job or starts studying, their child will be granted a place in a child daycare centre or family daycare within a fortnight.

For more detailed instructions on early childhood education and care services and application for these, please contact your municipality.

Contact information

Tarja Kahiluoto, neuvotteleva virkamies 
OKM, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen osasto, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen vastuualue 0295330386   forename.surname@minedu.fi


Kirsi Alila, Opetusneuvos 
OKM, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen osasto, Yleissivistävän koulutuksen ja varhaiskasvatuksen vastuualue 0295330365   forename.surname@minedu.fi