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Katja Repo, Maarit Alasuutari, Kirsti Karila and Johanna Lammi-Taskula

The chapter introduces the reader to the volume. The book presents a collection of articles that study how childcare and early childhood education policies are linked with issues of equality and access to the services in seven countries with different systems of childcare and early childhood education.

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Maarit Alasuutari, Kirsti Karila, Johanna Lammi-Taskula and Katja Repo

The chapter compiles the key arguments of the chapters of the volume. The authors of the book have analysed equal access in multiple contexts and with different kinds of data. The chapter argues that although the rhetoric of equal access has dominated the recent discussion on early childhood education and care, it is essential to critically outline the various political and practical connections of equal access and discover how the discourse of equal access is translated into policies and practices nationally and locally.

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Edited by Katja Repo, Maarit Alasuutari, Kirsti Karila and Johanna Lammi-Taskula

This timely book reveals how policies of childcare and early childhood education influence children’s circumstances and the daily lives of families with children. Examining how these policies are approached, it focuses particularly on the issues and pitfalls related to equal access.
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Petteri Eerola, Maarit Alasuutari, Kirsti Karila, Anu Kuukka and Anna Siippainen

In this chapter, we focus on local early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy discourses by scrutinizing the rationalities given for ECEC in ten Finnish municipalities. The empirical data comprise qualitative interviews with local politicians and ECEC administrators (n = 78) and the analysis applies a discourse analytic framework. As a result, we highlight three interpretative frames – local, economy and function – through which the organization and provision of ECEC is discussed. We conclude our analysis by constructing three local rationalities – investing in education in a diverse environment; a personal service conditioned by working life; and the best possible quality of ECEC with the resources available – for providing and organizing ECEC. Our analysis shows how these frames and rationalities are linked to global ideas on ECEC and how the different discourses appear in municipalities with different characteristics. We also demonstrate how the rationalities encompass divergent approaches on access to ECEC.