Pre-Primary Education Allocation (Proactive) - Helsinki

City / Region

Helsinki (Finland)

In a nutshell

Since 2021, Helsinki has offered pre-primary education allocation to parents proactively through text messages. Parents of kids of suitable age receive text message offering allocation in a nearby pre-school, and can accept the proposal by responding to the message. No application or filling out complex forms is needed.

 

 

What makes the service user-centric?
Helsinki aims to be a city that anticipates the service needs of local residents and businesses and provides services at all times without binding them to specific schedules or service points. As a step towards this goal, Helsinki has now been offering parents of preschool-age children throughout the city pre-primary education places in suitable day care centres directly via a text message, without the need to submit a separate application. The idea behind the proactive preschool admission scheme is that the City suggests a preschool for each child, eliminating the need for parents to fill in any forms at all.

The aim of the City’s efforts to implement digital services is to facilitate the day-to-day lives of local residents. By offering pre-primary education places via a text message, the City makes life and work easier for the parents of preschool-age children and day care centre directors. This mostly eliminates the need to fill in forms, make calls to pre-primary education providers and process applications. Admission are now confirmed in minutes, where before it could take weeks for the papers to be processed and a response to be sent. The traditional text message, which serves as the user interface for the service, has also been designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible and require no separate app.

Despite the automated system, parents and guardians are not required to accept the pre-primary education offers. The official decisions were sent at the same time to those who accepted the offer and those who took part in the application process.

What impact has the service had?
At the beginning of 2021, the proactive application service for pre-primary education expanded to cover all of Helsinki, which means that the service can now be used anywhere within city limits. In January 2021, a total of 5,591 families received text messages suggesting pre-primary education places for their children. The text message arrangement was found to be extremely efficient, as the response rate was as high as 93% of the families and nine out of ten families accepted the offer outright.

“In the future, Helsinki aims to offer an increasing number of its services proactively and automatically, or at least to make personalised service suggestions. The proactive operating model should be utilised especially in the context of statutory services to which local residents are entitled. The City must also have the necessary personal data and permission to use it for the purpose of providing the services. Proactiveness and personalised services save time and money for everyone,” Helsinki’s Chief Digital Officer Mikko Rusama says.
How was the service co-created?
The proactive application scheme for pre-primary education was piloted in early 2020 in the Kulosaari-Herttoniemi-Laajasalo and Kaarela-Pohjonen areas. At the time, pre-primary education places in nearby day care centres were offered by text message to more than 1,000 parents and guardians of preschool-age children. The trial was a resounding success, as more than four out of five text message recipients accepted the places being offered. The rest of the families decided to agree upon pre-primary education by submitting an application or wanted to make a change to the City’s offer. In the context of deploying the City’s digital services, a traditional service alternative will always be offered alongside the suggestions.

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