Finland's largest private kindergarten chain Touhula will close a total of 43 kindergartens as a result of co-operation negotiations. Six of those kindergartens are in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Of the closing kindergartens, four are in Helsinki and two in Espoo. In addition, Touhula will close two kindergartens in Kirkkonummi by the end of 2020 at the latest.
In Helsinki, kindergartens Touhula Ankkurinappi in Herttoniemenranta, Touhula Histamine in Meilahti, Touhula Central Park in Ruskeasuo and Touhula Lempi in Kallio will close at the end of July. In addition, the planned new activities in Jätkäsaari will not even start.
In Espoo, kindergartens Touhula Kilo and Touhula Laajalahti will close, too.
According to Helsingin Sanomat, Eeva Tiihonen, Regional Manager for Early Childhood Education in the City of Helsinki, says that there are currently 73 children in the kindergartens that Touhula will close in Helsinki.
Applications must be submitted
Other six Touhula kindergartens will continue to operate in Helsinki. Tiihonen says that the city has agreed with the company that places in those units will be offered to the customers of the closed schools.
If the family wants a place on the municipal side, an application must be submitted. “The family makes the choice of whether they will continue in another unit in Touhula or perhaps in a completely different private daycare center or municipal unit,” says Tiihonen.
"We are now making arrangements, but I am confident that all venues can be found in early childhood education," she stressed.
Private kindergartens in Helsinki
There is a severe shortage of early childhood education teachers in Helsinki kindergartens and the state of early childhood education in Helsinki has become critical.
Private kindergartens account for about 12% of the total amount of early childhood education in the capital city.
In Oulu and Rovaniemi, for example, about 40% of early childhood education is organized by private companies.
Touhula said last week that the company had completed the co-operation negotiations that began in early June. The co-determination negotiations involved 420 people. The exact number of redundancies will be determined later.
The decisions were based on Touhula's difficult financial situation. Touhula applied for corporate restructuring in mid-May.
According to Touhula, most of the company's kindergartens are financially stable, and no changes are planned for them. More than 140 kindergartens had been excluded from the co-operation negotiations.
Touhula has based its operations mainly on a service voucher model, in which the municipality has outsourced its early childhood education to a private company. A family that has received a municipal service voucher can choose a place of care for their child from private daycare centers approved by the municipality.