Participation in early childhood education and care has increased in Finland

Current issues
The participation rate in early childhood education and care is below the OECD average and clearly lower than in the other Nordic countries. The participation rate has however grown evenly since 2000.

In Finland, all children under school age have a right to publicly subsidised early childhood education and care if their parents so decide. The municipalities have a statutory duty to ensure that the provision is sufficient to meet the demand. Participation in ECEC is voluntary except for the one-year pre-primary education at the age of 6.

In 2016 circa 68 per cent of all 1─6-year-olds participated in early childhood education and care (ECEC). The majority of these children, 76 per cent, attended municipal ECEC centres. The proportion of children attending ECEC centres has increased, while the proportion of children in home-based ECEC has decreased from 32 per cent in 2000 to under 10 per cent in 2016.

The private provision of ECEC has also increased. Municipalities can choose to offer service vouchers or purchase ECEC serivces from a private provider. In addition, families can get support for covering part of the costs of private ECEC.

In 2016 some 14 per cent of children in ECEC participated in privately provided ECEC.

More efforts needed to improve the participation rate in ECEC

There is a considerable difference in the participation in ECEC between Finland and the other Nordic countries.

In Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark more than 90 per cent of 1-5-year- olds participate in ECEC. In Finland the corresponding figure is 79 per cent. Participation is also below the OECD average although it has grown since 2000.


  • OECD. Education at a Glance 2018 

Starting from 2019 more data on ECEC will be available through the statistical service VARDA