Achievement of the objectives of early childhood education and care

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Objective of the assessment

The main question in the assessment was whether the objectives set out for ECEC in the City Strategy have been achieved in daycare and preschool education. The sub-questions were: has the participation rate in ECEC improved, has free-of-charge ECEC been promoted according to the City Strategy, has the number of staff remained at the 2017 level and has customer satisfaction improved. Another matter that was looked into was how well the objective of providing ECEC as a local service is met. The strategy is based on the idea that high-quality ECEC is an attractive local service that reduces inequality among the city’s residents.

Conclusions

The objectives set for ECEC in the City Strategy have been achieved for the most part. However, the shortage of staff may undermine the achievement of objectives in the future. The objectives achieved include an increase in the participation rate, free-of-charge ECEC for five-year-olds four hours a day and fixed number of staff. However, the availability of ECEC teachers has been poor for a long period of time. The most challenging thing in autumn 2019 was the availability of Swedish-speaking childcarers. At the turn of 2020, applicants for a placement in Swedish-language ECEC had to be offered a placement in Finnish-language ECEC in violation of the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care. The City has carried out a great number of measures to influence the availability of staff, but the measures that require investment from the state have not progressed. From the point of view of inequality, the challenge is that the participation rate of children whose first language is not Finnish or Swedish is lower than that of Finnish and Swedish speakers. Customer satisfaction is at a high level, although communication about daily activities has been found to be an area that needs development.

The Audit Committee concludes that

the Education Division must

  • ensure that Swedish-language ECEC is realised in the children’s first language according to the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care;
  • enhance measures to influence the shortage of ECEC staff, particularly by influencing the state to secure a sufficient number of study places;
  • focus efforts on communicating about daily activities in daycare centres and preschool education.

the Education Division must, in cooperation with the services provided for families with children by the Social Services and Health Care Division,

  • promote the participation of children whose first language is not Finnish or Swedish in ECEC.

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In Assessment Report: