The Development Unit operates in the area consisted of four municipalities, Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa. 20% of the children in Finland are living in this area. The aim of this unit is to build a bipolar dialogue between the research and the practice in the field of early childhood education.
The main operators in this unit are the four municipalities, The University of Helsinki and Socca: the Centre of Expertise on Social Welfare in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The new unit emphasizes on collaboration with universities of applied sciences and various organizations. One of the most essential points is to strengthen practice research in the field of early childhood education and develop practical education.
The operation of the unit was launched during the years from 2007 to 2009. The activity of VKK-Metro is based on the constructions created in that project. The research is mainly implemented in 21 day care centers of the metropolitan area.
The co-operational practice is carried out for example as projects, researches, thesises and through practical training of students. The main clue is to benefit from the co-operation and to find useful solutions for early childhood education practice.
VKK-Metro – The development unit of Early Childhood Education in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Project 2007-2009
This project has created a network of 21 research-kindergartens (from Helsinki 10, from Espoo 5, from Vantaa 5 and from Kauniainen 1) which have each specified a theme connected to their development. They will develop each theme systematically utilising multiple methods of data collection. Each research-kindergarten has a tutor designated by the kindergarten’s municipality.
The development unit, VKK-Metro, will also follow-up on the implementation of the Moniku -project. The implementation evaluation was performed at the end of 2008 and was carried out and analysed by each municipality at the beginning of 2009.
A final report can be found in: http://www.socca.fi/kehittaminen/varhaiskasvatus_vkk-metro/julkaisuja_ja_materiaaleja/julkaisut/loytoretkella_omaan_tyohon_-_kehittamista_ja_tutkimista_paivakodin_arjessa_-_vkk-metron_julkaisu.696.shtml
The Child's Voice -project 2009-2011
The aim of this early childhood development project is to strengthen the support of children and families. The three leading goals for the development unit’s work are:
1. To Reinforce the participation of children and their parents.
2. To develop the structures of multi-professional work in the metropolitan area of Helsinki as an effort to avoid the social exclusion of children.
3. To combine research and evaluation as a part of everyday practice of the day care centers educational work .
The main quantitative research was performed in May 2010 and the report of the children’s participation in daycare groups was completed in November 2010. Report can be found in http://www.socca.fi/kehittaminen/varhaiskasvatus_vkk-metro/.