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Browsing by Subject "early childhood education and care"

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  • Saarimaa, Saku (2022)
    Recent studies on day-care staff have reported on problems in hiring qualified staff, and in increased resignations in existing staff. These problems are connected to an increase in workload and stress, and reduced wellbeing at work. When workload and challenges in day-care work increase, there can even be a risk of diminishing the pedagogical quality of education. The problems seem to occur differently and in different magnitudes in different day-care units, which indicates learning conditions’ possible segregation. In the case of schools, the socioeconomic status of nearby population has been noticed to affect children’s predisposed abilities to learn, and their support requirements in learning. This effect can be assumed to affect early childhood education similarly, which would lead to day-cares in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas to require extra resources and staff to compensate for the children’s increased support requirements. If those extra resources are not available, the staff will experience increased workload and stress, which will cause problems in the long term. The city is known to be somewhat socioeconomically segregated, and if this is mirrored in day-cares so that the backgrounds of children in day-cares get segregated, it may also start to affect the quality of education. In this case the unevenly distributed challenges would cause institutional segregation of learning conditions in early childhood education. The institutional segregation of early childhood education or schools has not been studied much in Finland. Earlier studies on Finnish schools have been able to explain differences between schools through differences in children’s backgrounds, and there has not been a reason to doubt the institutional equality of schools’ quality. The basic principle of the Finnish early childhood education and school system is to provide every child with equal conditions and opportunities to grow and learn. These equal conditions equalise segregation in the population by offering equally high-quality education in both disadvantaged and well-off areas of the city. However, if the segregation of children’s backgrounds is accompanied by the segregation of learning conditions in day-cares, there is a risk of the cumulation of both socioeconomic disadvantage and lower quality of education. In this case, the quality would decrease exactly where it would be most needed. In my thesis I study whether there is differentiation in problems related to hiring or keeping staff in the day-cares in Helsinki, through the numbers of resigned and unqualified staff in each unit. I also look at whether this segregation of day-care units is at all related to the socioeconomic segregation of the city’s population. In the study I utilize HR data from the city of Helsinki and socioeconomic population data from Statistics Finland, which I join onto spatial data of day-cares’ locations. I use this combined dataset to study the segregation of day-cares and its connections to socioeconomic segregation using quantitative statistical methods and spatial analysis methods. The results indicate that there is perceivable segregation in the staff of day-cares in Helsinki, but socioeconomic segregation is able to statistically explain the patterns only slightly. Therefore, mostly other phenomena seem to cause the differentiation in staff related problems, but these phenomena are not yet known. In terms of institutional segregation, the early childhood education system in Helsinki seems to still be quite equal. However, more knowledge about the subject is needed, because both the results in this study, as well as previous studies show some worrying signals pointing to the possibility of institutional segregation. In addition, intense public discourse around the topic of early childhood education, and a wide-ranging worker’s strike, including day-care staff, seem demonstrative of the seriousness of these challenges in day-cares.
  • Ahokas, Iida (2022)
    Background: Food systems and diets affect both human health and the environment. As dietary behaviour adopted in childhood often track to adulthood, the meals served in daycare centres offer a good opportunity for promoting healthy and climate-friendly eating habits in both short- and long-term. Objectives: As part of the FoodStep project, the objectives of this study were to examine compliance with the food-level recommendations, nutrient content per child and climate impacts of the conventional menus in Finnish daycare centers, as well as the potential changes in the compliance with the food-level recommendations, nutrient content per child and climate impacts of the FoodStep menus, modified towards more plant-based diet. Methods: Menus, recipes, and planned portion sizes were used to create hypothetical food diaries, representing the planned foods per child during a full-day daycare. Nutrient calculations were performed for conventional menus and modified FoodStep menus for four Finnish municipalities. Climate impacts of the same meals were calculated at Natural Resources Institute of Finland. Results: In the conventional menus, food-level serving frequency recommendations were not met for several food groups, but the compliance was clearly improved in the modified FoodStep menus in all the municipalities. At nutrient-level, the issues in the two menus were similar in every municipality: compared to the recommendations for daycares, too low proportion of energy was derived from fat and too high from protein. In addition, the planned salt supplies were excessive. The planned supplies of energy and micronutrients fulfilled the recommendations with the only exception of iron in the conventional menu of one municipality. In three of the four municipalities, the FoodStep menu modifications led to markedly reduced climate impacts. Conclusions: More focus in daycare menu planning would be needed to meet both the food- and nutrient-level recommendations. Moderate modifications of the conventional daycare menus – increasing vegetables, fruits, and berries, and sustainable fish species and decreasing meat and dairy products – can improve the compliance with the food-level recommendations and decrease the climate impacts of the menus without negative effects on the nutrient supplies.