Tuesday April 16, 2024

Guardians criticise poor staffing situation at day-care

Published : 18 Nov 2023, 04:07

  DF Report
Photo: Vessi Hämäläinen/ City of Espoo.

Most of the guardians of children attending Finnish-language early childhood education (daycare) are satisfied with their child’s early childhood education, although they criticized the poor staffing situation, according to a survey.

The main reasons for critical feedback were the frequent changes in staff and the shortage of teachers and special needs teachers, said the City of Espoo in a press release on Friday referring to the survey.

Some guardians also found it difficult to get information on who works in their child’s group or unit at any given time and what their educational backgrounds are.

Many respondents were dissatisfied that they had been asked to pick up their child earlier from the day care centre due to a shortage of staff.

“We take the guardians’ concerns seriously. The staffing situation in early childhood education is challenging, not only in Espoo but throughout the country. We are constantly developing our activities and the occupational wellbeing and working conditions of our staff. As the positive responses show, our staff work hard to provide children with high-quality early childhood education despite the difficulties,” said Marianne Leppänen, Development Manager (acting) of Early Childhood Education.

Twice a year, in spring and autumn, Espoo’s Finnish Early Childhood Education Unit sends a short assessment survey to clients of municipal and service voucher early childhood education. Feedback has been collected through the survey since autumn 2021.

In spring 2023, a total of 2,502 guardians responded to the survey. The majority of the respondents were clients of municipal early childhood education, and 1.2% had a child in a service voucher day care centre.

“The survey enables us to monitor client satisfaction and to utilise the feedback to develop our activities. We would like to thank all the guardians who responded to the survey for their valuable input!” said Leppänen.

Based on the results, early childhood education clients are satisfied with the service they receive.

The average score for both questions measuring satisfaction was 5.1 on a scale from 1 to 6 (1 = very dissatisfied and 6 = very satisfied). The average score has remained more or less at the same level throughout the survey’s history, for the past couple of years.

This means that guardians are generally very satisfied with their child’s early childhood education and its provider as well as their child’s wellbeing and learning in early childhood education.

While there was some variation in the responses, 93% of respondents gave a score of at least 4 when answering the questions measuring satisfaction.

“The answers showed that the service is very important to our clients – they want to give feedback and they put much thought into their answers,” Leppänen added.

In their open answers, guardians expressed that they are satisfied with day care centres’ activities and staff and described staff as skilled, warm and child-oriented. Respondents also praised Espoo’s early childhood education for paying individual attention to children and said that their children enjoy their time in day care.