A1 Journal article (refereed)
Enrolling the child in private early childhood education and care in the context of universal service provision (2024)

Alasuutari, M., Ruutiainen, V., & Karila, K. (2024). Enrolling the child in private early childhood education and care in the context of universal service provision. Education Inquiry, 15(1), 126-146. https://doi.org/10.1080/20004508.2023.2282792

The research was funded by Strategic Research Council at the Research Council of Finland.

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsAlasuutari, Maarit; Ruutiainen, Ville; Karila, Kirsti

Journal or seriesEducation Inquiry


Publication year2024

Publication date22/11/2023


Issue number1

Pages range126-146


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/92135


Finland has traditionally had a universal early childhood education and care (ECEC) system like the other Nordic countries, but in the last 15 years this system has undergone considerable marketisation and privatisation suggested to enable parental choice of ECEC. Much of the existing research on parental ECEC decisions has been conducted in contexts where ECEC systems differ considerably from the welfare and educational regimes of the Nordic countries. Moreover, parents’ views of private ECEC have scarcely been studied in the context of universal service provision. This study examined the frames the parents of a four-year-old child use to justify the selection of a private ECEC centre for their child. The data comprised qualitative interviews with eight Finnish parents. By applying discourse analytic tools, four frames were differentiated: accessibility, pedagogy, ECEC facilities and security. The findings demonstrated that while the accessibility of the services in terms of location and opening hours was the basis on which “choice” of ECEC was possible, the parents acted as active agents in the ECEC markets looking for services that would correspond to their values and perceptions of good childhood. The study raises the question of how well public policies and services can meet parents’ expectations and adjust to increasingly prevalent ideals of individualisation in society.

Keywordsearly childhood education and careday careprivate servicesparentsstatement of reasonsexperiences (knowledge)

Free keywordsparental early childhood education and care decision; marketisation; privatisation; Finland

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

Preliminary JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-25-03 at 09:48