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Children’s Ombudsman: Cuts to early childhood education hurt migrants

Children's Ombudsman Tuomas Kurttila is concerned that cuts to early childhood education hurt those in the most vulnerable positions.

Tuomas Kurttila
Children's Ombudsman Tuomas Kurttila Image: Vesa Toppari / Yle

Ombudsman for Children Tuomas Kurttila said on Wednesday that migrant families in particular suffer from recent cuts to welfare spending, including early childhood education.

Every tenth child in Finland is born to a mother with a migrant background, and Kurttila said immigrant families need diverse forms of support.

”We tend to treat the individual child when instead we should take a look at the environment and identify the help that is needed,” he said. According to Kurttila, savings in early childhood education often develop into loneliness and learning difficulties at school.

”In the end, the person is left alone and the society washes its hands of the problem."

A country of chances

Kurttila said Finland has become a country of chances where children no longer enjoy equal chances of getting a good start in life. Above all, Parliament’s decision in 2015 to limit the subjective right to day care does not benefit children.

The law stipulates that a child does not have a right to full-time day care if one of the parents is at home due to unemployment or parental leave, for example. While some municipalities have implemented the change, dozens of others – including large cities like Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Turku – have refused to follow suit.

”One could ask how early do we start to categorize children, ”Kurttila said. ”A wise society would stand up for all children regardless of their family background.”

Last year, Kurttila proposed that early childhood education should be a constitutional right.

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