Deputy-Ombudsman Pasi Pölönen proposes that the Ministry of Education and Culture assess whether the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care should be specified.
The Deputy-Ombudsman took the initiative to investigate how the right to early childhood edu-cation and care is realised for children seeking protection in Finland, particularly ones now flee-ing the attack by Russia. As a matter of urgency, the Deputy-Ombudsman requested a state-ment from the Ministry of Education and Culture on how the ministry’s instructions secure these children access to early childhood education and care on an equal basis and in the best inter-ests of the child. The Deputy-Ombudsman considered it necessary that children’s right to early childhood education and care be assessed while taking their individual situation and needs into account.
Under the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care, in urgent cases or if otherwise required by the circumstances, each municipality must ensure that early childhood education and care is also provided to children who are not residents of the municipality. In the view of the Ministry of Education and Culture, such a situation can be considered temporary protection or international protection. The Deputy-Ombudsman shares this view. The Ministry also stated that it had clari-fied its instructions.
The Deputy-Ombudsman stressed that under the requirements of the Act, children have a sub-jective right to early childhood education and care, and municipalities cannot use discretion in the organisation of early childhood education and care. However, under the current Act, the obligation to provide early childhood education and care for children applying for protection re-mains open to interpretation and subject to case-by-case assessment. The Deputy-Ombudsman considered that the interpretation practice of the Act on Early Childhood Educa-tion and Care may jeopardise the realisation of the rights of vulnerable children.
Deputy-Ombudsman Pasi Pölönen’s decision 1992/2022 has been published (in Finnish) on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at www.oikeusasiamies.fi.
Further information is available from Senior Legal Advisor Piatta Skottman-Kivelä, tel. +358 9 432 3347.