Evaluation of the experiment for free of charge early childhood education and care for five-year-olds (2018-2021)

An experiment on providing five-year-olds with free of charge early childhood education and care (ECEC) was launched by the government for the period 2018–2020. The purpose of the experiment was to increase the participation of five-year-olds and their siblings in ECEC and to promote their guardians’ employment. The experiment also aimed to develop the pedagogy and service counselling of ECEC. The long-term goals were strengthening equality in education as well as increasing the participation rate in ECEC, which is lower in Finland than in the other Nordic countries. The government decided to extend the experiment for a third face for 2020-2021. The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has carried out the evaluations of the achievements of the experiment’s objectives.


Third phase and the summary of the experiment (2020-2021)

The aspects examined in the third phase of the experiment were the participation of children aged five and younger in ECEC, the use of child home care allowance, the impact of the municipal supplement to the allowance on the ECEC and childcare solutions of families, and service counselling in ECEC.


Second phase of the experiment (2019-2020)

In the second phase, 26 municipalities participated in the experiment. The participating municipalities offered 20 hours of free of charge early childhood education and care to the families of five-year-old children. Central government compensation had been granted to cover 40% of the estimated reduction in the accrual of fee revenue. The second report examined changes in participation in early childhood education and care among children aged five and younger, the costs arising from the experiment, and issues related to its organisation. The evaluation drew on both quantitative and qualitative data.


First phase of the experiment (2018-2019)

In total, there were 12,400 five-year-old children in the 19 municipalities participating in the experiment, amounting to 20 per cent of the age group born in 2013. The following municipalities participated in the experiment: Harjavalta, Forssa, Miehikkälä and Virolahti together, Turku, Somero, Leppävirta, Mäntyharju, Helsinki, Kempele, Iisalmi, Kotka, Salo, Oulu, Liperi, Sonkajärvi, Kitee, Kirkkonummi and Taivassalo.

The evaluation carried out by FINEEC had the aim of investigating the achievement of the goals set by the Ministry of Education and Culture for the free ECEC for five-year-olds. The purpose of the evaluation was to produce knowledge to support political decision-making and to help find answers to the question of whether providing ECEC free of charge will affect children’s participation in ECEC. The evaluation also aimed to produce knowledge for ECEC providers on organising a free experiment to support local development work.



  • Julia Kuusiholma-Linnamäki, Senior Evaluation Advisor, tel. +358 29 533 5551, firstname.lastname@karvi.fi
  • Laura Lepola, Senior Evaluation Advisor, tel. +358 29 533 firstname.lastname@karvi.fi