Living in Finland

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Day care

Childcare alternatives in Finland include

  • municipal day care
  • private day care
  • looking after the child at home

In most cases, one of the parents looks after the child at home for at least the duration of the period of parental leave (vanhempainvapaa), which lasts until the child is around nine months old. If you also look after your child at home after the period of parental leave, you are entitled to leave from work for childcare purposes until the child’s third birthday. Further information is available on the Infopankki page Family leave. You can apply for financial support for childcare at home from Kela. Read more on the Infopankki page Benefits for looking after a child at home.

Day care is intended for children under school age. Day care is not just child care, but also early education (varhaiskasvatus). It means education, teaching and care that have been pedagogically planned, with carefully considered goals. Trained kindergarten teachers and child nurses work in early education.

Municipal day care

If you have a municipality of residence in Finland, you can apply for municipal day care for your child after the period of parental leave. At that point, the child will be approximately nine months old. If you do not have an official municipality of residence in Finland, you are considered a resident of the municipality in which you reside.

If both parents work, their child has the right to full-time early education.

If one parent is at home, the child’s right to early education depends on their municipality of residence.

  • In some municipalities, the child may have a right to full-time early education even if one parent is at home.
  • In other municipalities, the child has a right to 20 hours of early education per week if one parent is at home. However, the family can apply for a right to full-time early education if the child needs special support with learning Finnish or because of a difficult family situation.

You can apply for municipal day care in

  • a day care centre (päiväkoti)
  • group family day care (ryhmäperhepäivähoito)
  • family day care (perhepäivähoito)

In day care centres, children are usually divided into groups looked after by 3–4 staff. Groups typically includes 12–24 children. The number of children depends on their age and the number of staff looking after each group.

In group family day care, 2–3 childminders look after the children. A group can have a maximum of four children per care provider.

Family day care involves a care provider looking after the children in his or her own home. A family day care group can have a maximum of four children. In addition, the group may include one child of preschool age, for example. Some family day care providers look after children in the children's home.

Apply for municipal day care from your municipality at least four months before your child is due to start day care. A day care place can be granted within two weeks if the parents get a job or a student position.

The level of the municipal day care fee depends on the size and income of the child’s family and on the length of time the child will spend in day care. The maximum day care fee for one child is EUR 290 per month. A discount is granted for the day care fees of any siblings. If the family has a very low income, day care may be free of charge. For further information, contact the advisory services of your own municipality.

Private day care

The different forms of private day care include:

  • private day care centres or private group family day care centres
  • family day care providers or
  • day care given by a child carer hired by the family to work at their home

You can apply for day care directly from a private day care centre or a private group family day care centre.

You can also seek a private family day care provider who will look after children in his or her own home, or hire a child carer to work in your home. If you hire a child carer to work in your home, you become an employer and must attend to an employer’s obligations. Read more on the Infopankki page Employer's rights and obligations. You can also hire a child carer together with another family.

The municipality supervises private day care providers. You can find out about different day care options from the person in charge of day care in your municipality.

The costs of private day care vary. However, in most cases you can apply for private day care allowance from Kela. In such a case, private day care is not necessarily a great deal more expensive than municipal day care.

Private day care allowance

If your child has a municipality of residence in Finland, you can apply for private day care allowance from Kela. The child care provider must be approved by the municipality.

You can apply for private day care allowance (yksityisen hoidon tuki) if

  • your child is under school age and is placed in a private day care centre; or
  • your child is looked after by another type of private day care provider.

You cannot apply for private day care allowance if the care provider is a family member of the child or if the child and the carer live in the same household. Neither can you receive private day care allowance if your child is placed in municipal day care.

The amount of allowance depends on the income of the child's family and on the municipality in which the family resides, among other things.

Kela pays the allowance directly to the hired child carer or other child care provider. Private day care allowance is taxable income. This allowance is not paid abroad.

Further information on private day care allowance is available on Kela’s website.

Kela offers a telephone service for families with children. The service is available from Monday to Friday between 8.00–18.00

  • for calls in Finnish tel. +358 (0)20 692 206
  • for calls in Swedish and English tel. +358 (0)20 692 226

Kela offices also provide services in other languages via interpreters.

linkkiKela:
Private day care allowanceFinnish | Swedish | English

What goes on in day care centres?

A day in a day care centre includes a range of activities, for example games, sports, music, crafts and excursions. Children can also take a nap or rest during the day. The goal of these activities is to further the development of and learning among children. Children also learn social skills. The child is supported in learning Finnish or Swedish if he or she has another mother tongue.

However, the day care centre is not a school. Children do not study subjects or attend classes.

The children have three meals at the day care centre: breakfast, lunch and a snack. If your child has a special diet, please inform the day care centre.

Your family’s religious convictions or life philosophies will be taken into consideration in day care. The day care centre workers and family day care providers will ask the parents how this should be done.

Some localities provide day care centres in which children and teachers speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish.

Day care centres normally begin their days in the morning and end them in the afternoon. However, some day care centres and family day care providers provide children with care around the clock due to the parents' studies or working hours.

Temporary help in childcare

Through the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL), you can find short-term help for childcare in your home. Child care assistance is subject to a charge. Check current prices from the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare website. If you hire a child carer to work in your home, you become an employer and must attend to an employer’s obligations. Read more on the Infopankki page Employer's rights and obligations.

Children's clubs and playgroups

Parishes, municipalities and organisations hold playgroups for children. Playparks also organise playgroup activities. Playgroups usually last a couple of hours.

In an open day care centre, you can spend time with your child. Activities last a few hours at a time. Open day care centres are free of charge.

Playgroups and open day care centres provide organised play, singing, crafts and other activities.

linkkiMinistry of Education and Culture:
Information om dagvårdFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiHoitopaikka.net:
Information on private day careFinnish