Local governments across Finland are to save money by closing dozens of small day care centres and relocating children to larger, more cost-efficient units.
The move has come under scrutiny from the Finnish Association of Kindergarten Teachers which argues that there should be a cap on class sizes. “In my opinion, any daycare centre with more than a hundred children is too large. One must take into consideration that each centre’s director has to be able to have the possibility to act as a hands-on supervisor,” said Anne Liinola, the Association’s chair.
The City of Espoo on the outskirts of Helsinki is facing a particularly tough battle to keep centres open in the economic downturn. Previously, daycare has been available for pre-schoolers at over 50 locations in the district, but such facilities, especially those run from rented properties, are now earmarked as the first to go. Helsinki itself is also seeking to minimise the number of substitute teachers to cut costs, while upcountry Oulu is increasing day care group sizes, reports YLE.
Local governments across Finland have been working on the theory that larger units equate to lower overall costs. In addition, smaller units are considered more vulnerable and difficult to manage for daily logistics, particularly in situations such as flu epidemics. “For example, food deliveries are better managed. We have large kitchens. Also, cleaning services are ensured,” claims Hannele Huovinen, from Espoo’s Hosmari Park Day Care Centre.