Daytrips are an important part of early childhood education provided by day care centres and are governed by the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care. An early childhood education teacher supported by their team is responsible for providing safe early childhood education in compliance with the law and the National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care.
Under the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care, the early childhood education and care environment must foster development and learning and be healthy and safe, taking into consideration the children’s age and stage of development.
Different excursions enrich children’s learning environments. It is essential that the trips and various learning environments provided by the day care centre are provided for in the local early childhood education and care curriculum. The early childhood education teacher will then assess together with their team which trips and excursions are appropriate for their specific day care centre and when they should take place.
A successful excursion with a child group begins with careful planning. The plan should be finalised well in advance and be approved by the manager of the day care centre, who carries the final responsibility for health and safety at the day care centre. The early childhood education providers’ own guidelines should be observed when planning for trips.
Only plan excursions that all the children in the day care centre group can participate in as appropriate to their age, stage of development and health, unless it has been specifically agreed that the excursion is participated only by part of the group.
At least the following items should be documented in the plan:
- The names of the children participating in the excursion and the contact details of their parents/guardians.
- Photographs of each child in case someone goes missing.
- The names of the early childhood education team members participating in the excursions and their responsibilities and duties.
- Other adults joining the excursion, e.g., parents/guardians.
- The location and potential risks and hazards (risk assessment).
- Support provided to children with special support needs.
- Potential medical care required during the excursion.
- The means of transport when travelling to and from the location.
- Any equipment required on the excursion.
- Possible meal arrangements during the excursion.
- How and when the parents/guardians are informed about the excursion.
- The costs and budget of the trip.
- What to do if a child becomes unwell during the excursion.
- What to do if a child goes missing during the excursion.
The Decree on Early Childhood Education and Care prescribes that children must be supervised during every excursion by an adequate number of early childhood education and care personnel in relation to the number of participating children. Children on any excursion must be supervised by at least two adult members of the education and care team at all times. The day care centre manager will assess together with an early childhood education teacher how many members of the day care centre staff are required on an excursion to ensure safety.
When making this assessment, remember that children are at a higher than normal risk of accidents or going missing during excursions. If there are not enough adults to participate on an excursion, the excursion should be rescheduled. While children’s parents/guardians may join an excursion to support the early childhood education and care team, remember that they cannot assume any legal responsibility for the children. It is essential that at least one of the adults joining the excursion has first aid skills.
Before deciding on the location for excursion, carry out a careful risk assessment. Think carefully what the risks are while travelling to the location and at the location and how you will eliminate or at least manage the risks in advance. If necessary, contact the location staff in advance and discuss any safety issues that you should consider.
If possible, visit the location before the excursion day. This will help you to better understand the various risks and any other points to consider when planning for the trip. Choose locations that you are familiar with and know to be suitable and safe.
Think carefully in advance what type of trip is the safest for your specific group. When choosing a suitable location, consider the number of children and adults participating, as well as the children’s age and individual characteristics.
If a child or children in your day care centre group require special support, make sure that they receive appropriate support during the trip. Find out if a child’s medical condition requires special attention during the excursion and how this will be managed.
Find out the safest and easiest way to travel to the location. If you need to hire a coach, ask your manager for a permission to use the paid service.
It is not recommended to use the day care centre staff’s or parents’/guardians’ own vehicles for day care centre excursions because of the many risks this could involve.
However, if a teacher chooses to drive children against the recommendations of OAJ, in the event of a road accident, the guilty party’s traffic insurance will cover any personal injuries as well as the injured party’s personal injuries and damage to property.
However, the traffic insurance does not protect against all liabilities. If a teacher is driving a child and causes personal injury, the child’s parent may sue the teacher for any damages.
The early childhood education provider is responsible for the costs of early childhood education. Parents may not be expected to pay for the cost of an excursion in addition to their statutory day-care fees.
Excursions and events organised by the day care centre may, however, be financed through fundraisers jointly organised by parents/guardians. When raising such funds, parents/guardians cannot allocate them to only their child. Fundraising must be completely voluntary for parents/guardians. Each child must have the opportunity to participate in the day care centre activities regardless of whether their parent/guardian has participated in fundraising.
According to the Money Collection Act, day care centre fundraisers are exempt from a money collection permit. Funds may be raised by, for example, the parent-teacher association. For further information on the regulations governing fundraising is available on the website of, for example, the police administration.
The Act on Early Childhood Education and Care includes provisions on the involvement of parents and guardians in early childhood education. According to the Act, when planning, implementing and assessing children’s early childhood education and care, the children’s opinion and wishes shall be ascertained and these shall be taken into account as appropriate for each child’s age and stage of development. When planning excursions for day care centre groups, involving the parents/guardians is recommended and it is also useful to try and ask the children’s opinions.
Once the location and time of excursion has been decided, inform the parents/guardians well in advance. If you wish to ask a few parents to join you on the excursion, make the arrangements for this in good time. Make sure that any parents joining the trip are aware that they cannot hold any legal responsibility for the children on the excursion. When informing parents/guardians of an excursion, remember to:
- ask for a permission for the child to participate,
- disclose the time and location of the excursion,
- advise on suitable clothing,
- ask for any special instructions concerning a child’s medical condition or other support needs.
The children are the responsibility of the day care centre for the entire duration of the excursion. It is important that the adults responsible for the group agree in advance how the supervision of the children will be organised, including regular headcounts and children’s sudden need to use the toilet, etc.
It is recommended that children wear high-visibility vests during the trip as this will make it easier for the team to supervise the children and for outsiders to identify a day care centre group.
The high-visibility vests should be marked with the name and phone number of the day care centre.
In addition to other necessities, the staff must carry a first aid kit and any medication that the children might need during the excursion.
Despite careful planning, it is possible that a child goes missing during an excursion. Therefore, the excursion plan should include instructions for the staff in case a child goes missing. The staff should carry of photograph of each child participating in the excursion. The plan should include a search plan and it should be discussed and rehearsed with the day care centre staff before the beginning of the trip.
For further information, see the guidelines of the Finnish National Agency for Education on the safe provision of early childhood education and on the safety planning in early childhood education for 2008 (available in Finnish).