The Policies of Childcare and Early Childhood Education
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The Policies of Childcare and Early Childhood Education

Does Equal Access Matter?

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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Chapter 10: Rationalizing early childhood education and care in the local context: a case study of Finnish municipalities

Petteri Eerola, Maarit Alasuutari, Kirsti Karila, Anu Kuukka and Anna Siippainen

Abstract

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.

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