Oversight of early childhood education and care services

At the Regional State Administrative Agencies, we monitor the quality and realisation of early childhood education and care. We supervise the activities of both municipal and private early childhood education and care providers. We monitor whether the early childhood education and care offered complies with the law. The Act on Early Childhood Education and Care includes provisions on matters such as group size and staffing level, the contents of early childhood education and care and the equal treatment of children. 

What are the steps involved in a typical enforcement case? 

  • Regional State Administrative Agencies get involved when a non-conformance is spotted by one of our own staff or brought to our attention by a disgruntled employee or member of the public. Some cases are referred to us by other government agencies, such as the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. An ‘enforcement case’ refers to an issue or an incident that we investigate in order to establish whether any illegal or otherwise inappropriate conduct has occurred.

  • We familiarise ourselves thoroughly with each case. If we decide that a case warrants further investigation, we dig deeper. If there does not appear to be any reason to begin an actual investigation, we close the case and notify the interested parties. Alternatively, we can refer the case to another competent authority.   

  • If we decide to open an investigation, we notify the operator in question and begin to gather evidence. We can also visit the operator’s premises in person or ask them to provide answers to specific questions. 

  • Once we have all the evidence that we consider relevant to the case, we review it to establish whether there are any aspects of the operation that are illegal or otherwise objectionable and that need revising. We usually conclude an investigation by issuing a formal decision. However, occupational safety and health investigations, for example, can be concluded by simply making a note at the bottom of an inspection report. Any formal decision we issue at the end of an investigation explains our findings regarding any illegalities or non-conformances discovered and guides the operator towards taking remedial steps. The document also provides a reference point going forward, hopefully preventing any future irregularities. Enforcement cases can, depending on the circumstances, take as long as a year to investigate.  

  • At the end of our investigation, we can

    • conclude that the operator has not broken the law, 

    • draw the operator’s attention to practices that should be revised to ensure compliance with the law or good corporate governance rules in the future,

    • give the operator a warning,

    • order the operator to take corrective action by a certain deadline or risk a fine, or report the operator to the police. 

    •  
  • We cannot, based on our investigation,

    • overturn or change decisions made by other competent authorities,

    • order the operator to pay damages,

    • order the operator to make specific decisions or take specific measures,

    • impose penalties, or

    • give orders relating to employment contracts.

Proactive guidance

Proactive guidance is a key part of our enforcement. The supervisory authorities specified in the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care – meaning the Regional State Administrative Agencies and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health – must primarily provide guidance and advice for the providers of early childhood education and care according to the law. 

  • The goal of the versatile guidance and advice is to ensure that early childhood education and care is of high quality and complies with the regulations.  
  • Examples of proactive guidance include the training events we organise and the guides we have drawn up.  
  • In addition, we instruct early childhood education and care providers to carry out self-regulation systematically. 

Our enforcement is based on a supervisory programme as well as complaints or other communications we have received.  

  • We draw up the supervisory programme in cooperation with the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. The programme, which we update as needed, directs the focus areas of our enforcement. Further information: Supervisory programme (in Finnish)
  • If you are planning to file a complaint about early childhood education and care, we recommend that you first file an objection with the unit, with the activities of which you are dissatisfied.
  • You can find more detailed information on filing a complaint on the page Enforcement and reporting violations.

Links to legal texts