Cooperation with imprisoned parents in early childhood education and care in Finland


  • Susanna Itäkare Tampere University
  • Maarit Suomela Silta-Valmennusyhdistys ry


early childhood education and care, diverse families, equity, cooperation with parents, parent´s imprisonment


Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a public service for all children and families living in Finland. To advance the child´s growth, development and learning, cooperation with parents is an essential part of ECEC. According to the National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care, one of the underlying values in ECEC is the diversity of families. However, according to various studies, the curricula for ECEC reproduce a family-centered discourse based on a hegemonic and ideal nuclear family. Although there are a lot of children in Finland who are affected by their parent´s imprisonment, very few studies on how parental incarceration is dealt with in ECEC exist. It is common that ECEC staff do not know that a parent is in prison, which makes providing support to the family almost impossible; hence more openness is needed. Additionally, at an institutional level, ECEC should be much more inclusive and focus on diversity, equality, and equity. Culturally relevant pedagogy considers the diverse sociocultural worlds the children live in – including parental incarceration. Educators should reflect on their own personal views about parents who have committed crimes and remember that children are always innocent. Lastly, more societal discussion on prejudices and discrimination against parents who are or have been in prison is needed.


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Non-peer reviewed writings