Universal public childcare for children under sevenhas been central in Finland since the mid-1990s, capacitating both genderequality and children’s human capital and wellbeing. In 2015, as a further stepin the development of this system, early learning and childhood pedagogy wasstrengthened through the early childhood education and care reform (statute 580/2015).Some months later, however, the right to full-day ECEC was restricted tochildren with employed parents (statute 108/2016). This paper discusses thesetwo reforms by analysing theirobjectives, framing and ideational drivers on the basis of government bills andparliamentary debates. We argue that the idea of austerity has superseded theidea of investments in the child’s human capital and development. There is alsoa shift from universalism to a stronger accentuation of conditionality. Webelieve the reforms will have negativeeffects on the quality of ECEC and increase inequalities in children’s humancapital and learning.
- welfare state reform