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Administrative Court (Hallinto-oikeus)
Administrative Court is part of the judicial system, which handles complaints regarding the decisions of different authorities. The administrative court is also involved in deciding child welfare matters.
After-care means the support and help provided after alternative care. Municipalities must organise after-care each time a placement has lasted at least six months, regardless of the child’s age. A separate client plan is drawn up for after-care, in which it is recorded the services and support measures agreed together. After-care is intended to facilitate the child or young person’s return home or becoming independent. After-care may continue until the young person turns 21 years old. (Child Welfare Act 75 §)
Alternative care – also out-of home care, extra-familial care, substitute care (Sijaishuolto)
Alternative care means arranging the care and raise of a child that has been taken into care, or placed urgently away from the child’s home. (Child Welfare Act 49 §)
Proceedings in a child welfare case can also be initiated by the parents or the child contacting child welfare services and requesting help. This is called an application.
Child Welfare Act (Lastensuojelulaki)
The Child Welfare Act determines regulations concerning child welfare. In addition to the Child Welfare Act, the Child Custody and Right of Access Act and the Convention on the Rights of the Child determine child protection and treatment. The new Child Welfare Act came into force in early 2008. The latest amendments came into force on 1.3.2010.
Child and family specific child welfare (Lapsi- ja perhekohtainen lastensuojelu)
Child and family specific child welfare is implemented by investigating the need for child welfare measures and drawing up a client plan, as well as providing support measures in open care. Child and family specific child welfare also includes a child’s emergency placement and taking a child into care, as well as alternative care and after-care related to them. (Child Welfare Act 3 §)
Child welfare (Lastensuojelu)
Child welfare is the service task of society, the aim of which is to guarantee a child’s balanced development and wellbeing. Child welfare is divided into child and family specific, as well as preventive, child welfare.
Child welfare institution (Lastensuojelulaitos)
A child welfare institution is an institution, in which trained workers are responsible for taking care of children and young people placed in care. For example, children’s homes, youth homes, reception homes, reformatories and family support centres are child welfare institutions. In addition to institutional care, child welfare institutions may also provide open care services. Institutions may be specialised to care for small children, youths or children and youths that need certain special care. For example, children that are difficult to care for in an ordinary foster family are cared for at a child welfare institution. A child may be too violent or may have a severe problem with alcohol abuse. In Finland, institutions resemble homes and they are never very big. Institutions comply with the law in their activities, which are monitored. .
Child welfare notification (Lastensuojeluilmoitus)
A child welfare notification means that a child welfare social worker has been notified about a child that may need help. A child welfare notification is submitted to the municipal social office by telephone, in writing or by paying a visit personally to a social office. Any person, who is concerned about a child’s wellbeing, can submit a child welfare notification. Authorities working with children and families are obliged to submit a child welfare notification, if they are concerned about a child’s wellbeing. (Child Welfare Act 25-26 §)
Child welfare social worker (Lastensuojelun sosiaalityöntekijä)
A child welfare social worker works for the municipal child welfare services, whose duties include handling the matters of child welfare clients, as well as client-specific planning, organisation, follow-up and evaluation of services. A child welfare social worker must be trained to become professionally qualified in accordance with the law. (Child Welfare Act 13 §)
Children’s home (Lastenkoti)
A children’s home is a child welfare institution, where children and young people placed in care live. Trained workers are responsible for the care of children and young people placed in care. In Finland, children’s homes resemble homes, and they are never very big. Children’s homes comply with the law in their work, and their activities are monitored.
Client plan (Asiakassuunnitelma)
A client plan is a document containing the matters for which the child and family need help, and which is aimed to amend. It is also registered in the client plan how and when child welfare services will help a child and family. A client plan must always be drawn up for a child who is a child welfare services’ client. A client plan must be revised when necessary, and at least once a year. When necessary, an own client plan will be drawn up for the parents. (Child Welfare Act 30 §)
Emergency Youth Shelter (Nuorten turvatalo)
Emergency Youth Shelters help young people and their families settle difficult life situations.
Emergency placement (Kiireellinen sijoitus)
Emergency placement means that a child is immediately taken away from his or her home and placed outside the home. Emergency placement may be resorted to if a child is in immediate danger or otherwise in need of urgent alternative care. Emergency placement is valid for 30 days, but under certain conditions it can be continued for 30 more days at most. (Child Welfare Act 38 §)
Emergency social services (Sosiaalipäivystys)
Emergency social services attends to the urgent need for help at all hours and weekdays. Contact information for the emergency social services can be found in the telephone directory, on the municipal website, by calling the emergency number 112, the hospitals or police.
Family Group Conference (Läheisneuvonpito)
A family group conference is a working method that aims to solve problems together with people who are close to and important for the child and the family. In a family group conference, the relevant people and authorities concerning the child’s affairs meet and discuss together.
Family carer (Perhehoitaja)
A family carer is a person who provides family care in his or her own home. Family carers are also called foster parents.
Family work (Perhetyö)
Family work is an activity, which supports families in their everyday life and helps them cope with different life situations. The content and form of family work activities vary in municipalities.
Family worker (Perhetyöntekijä)
A family worker works in families with children and helps parents with nursing, nurturing and raising the children, as well as with domestic chores.
Foster care (Perhehoito)
Foster care means that the care, raising and nurturing of a child placed in care is arranged outside of the child’s home in a family’s private home. The families are called foster families.
Foster family (Sijaisperhe)
A foster family is a family providing family care, in which a child has been placed in care owing to child welfare -related reasons. A foster family provides a safe environment for the child to live and grow up. The parents of foster families are given training and must be approved. A child placed in a foster family is allowed to meet his or her own parents. Foster parents are also called family carers.
Foster parents (Sijaisvanhemmat)
The parents of a foster family are called foster parents. Foster parents are also known as family carers.
Institutional care – also residential care (Laitoshoito)
Institutional care means that the care, raising and nurturing of a child placed in care is arranged outside of his or her home in a child welfare institution.
Investigating the need for child welfare services (Lastensuojelutarpeen selvitys)
Investigating the need for child welfare services means an assessment of the circumstances in which the child is being raised, cared for, as well as the need for child welfare services. The social worker responsible for the child’s affairs must investigate the child’s need for child welfare services within three months after the initiation of child welfare proceedings. (Child Welfare Act 27 §)
Involuntary taking into care (Tahdonvastainen huostaanotto)
Involuntary taking into care means a situation, in which children of 12 years of age or more or guardians oppose taking into care. Then the court must rule on the matter. The social worker responsible for the child’s affairs must prepare an application to the Administrative Court, in which the child’s taking into care is proposed. The Administrative Court will learn about the matter and rule on the best solution in accordance with the best interests of the child. (Child Welfare Act 43 § (2)
Maternity and child health clinic (Äitiys- ja lastenneuvola)
The maternity and child health clinic is a service that provides help in a child’s health care free of charge in Finland. The mother visits the maternity clinic during pregnancy. A maternity clinic monitors the wellbeing of the mother and the future baby. A child health care clinic monitors the growth and development of children under school age. For example, a child receives the necessary vaccinations at a child health clinic.
Placement means that a child is placed in alternative care, in other words that a child’s care and raising is arranged away from the child’s home.
Placement as a support measure in open care (Sijoitus avohuollon tukitoimena)
Placement as a support measure in open care means a situation in which a child, or family together are placed away from their home on a short-term basis, if it is foreseen that the situation will improve quickly. Open care placement is always voluntary. Placement must be terminated immediately if the guardian or a child of 12 years of age or more demand it. (Child Welfare Act 37 §)
Preschool education (Esiopetus)
Preschool education is intended for all children under school age the year prior to beginning of compulsory education. A child starts preschool education usually during the year when he or she turns six years old. In preschool education the child adopts knowledge and learns skills for school through playing and doing things together with others. All children are entitled to preschool education free of charge, but the parents may decide whether the child participates in preschool education or not. In Finland, preschool education is provided both at day care centres and schools.
Preventive child welfare (Ehkäisevä lastensuojelu)
Preventive child welfare means such measures and services provided by different parties to secure children’s growth, development and wellbeing and to support parenting. Special support given by a municipality or other operators in the area is preventive child welfare when a child or family is not a child welfare client. Preventive child welfare is carried out, for example, by maternity and children’s clinics and other health care, day care, education and adolescent work. (Child Welfare Act 3 a §)
Professional foster home (Ammatillinen perhekoti)
A professional foster home is a form of alternative care, between an institution and foster care. This means a home authorised by law to operate as a foster home. There are two professionally trained adults living in a family home, who are responsible for the care and raising of the children placed in care.
Request to evaluate the need for child welfare services
A family or child can also seek help together with a school or day care centre worker, for example. If help is sought together with such a worker, a request is made to evaluate the need for child welfare instead of a notification.
Restrictive measures (Rajoitustoimenpiteet)
Restrictive measures applied in alternative care include restrictions on contact, bodily search and physical examination and restraining a child physically. The law determines all restrictive measures and detailed preconditions for their application. Restrictive measures may only be applied in institutions except for restriction of contact, which can also be applied in family care. (Child Welfare Act 61–74 §)
School social worker (Koulukuraattori)
A school social worker is one who works at school, who provides help and support for pupils and their families. For example, a school social worker can help when a pupil has problems with school attendance or friendships or if changes occur in his or her life. The parents can discuss with the school social worker about the situation at home or matters concerning raising the child.
Shelter or shelter home (Turvakoti)
Shelters help victims of domestic violence or those experiencing a threat of domestic violence. One can go to a shelter alone or with children at any hour. There are shelters in larger municipalities, but one can seek into a shelter from elsewhere as well.
Social office or social services (Sosiaalitoimisto tai sosiaalitoimi)
Each municipality has a social office or social services providing various services and benefits for the municipality residents. The social office or social services are responsible for child welfare services.
Social worker responsible for the child’s affairs (Lapsen asioista vastaava sosiaalityöntekijä)
The social worker responsible for the child’s affairs is a social worker designated for each client of child welfare services. His or her responsibility is to guarantee that the child receives the necessary support and services. The social worker responsible for the child’s affairs is obliged to act as a guardian of the best interests of the child (Child Welfare Act 13 b §, 24 §)
Special needs education (Erityisopetus)
Special needs education is intended for pupils who need special support at school. The reasons may be varied, for example, learning difficulties, illness, or development delays. Special needs education can be provided as individual instruction or in a small group.
Support measures in open care (Avohuollon tukitoimet)
Support measures in open care are services provided for a family to help and support children and parents in their own living environment. Support measures in open care are voluntary and based on co-operation with the family. Support measures are always planned individually so that they correspond to the child and family’s needs. Support measures can be organised exclusively for the child or the parents or for the whole family. There are many forms of support measures and they vary in different localities. The need for support measures is recorded in a client plan. An authority issues a decision granting support measures, which the family can appeal.
Taking a child into care (Huostaanotto)
Taking a child into care means that the responsibility for raising and caring for a child is transferred to the authorities. According to law, a child must be taken into care if his or her health and development is at serious risk. The risk is being defined by the circumstances in which the child is being raised or by the child’s own behavior. However, taking into care can be resorted to only if it is the best interests of the child and support measures in open care have proven inadequate. (Child Welfare Act 40 §, 45 §)
The best interests of the child (Lapsen etu)
The best interests of the child is the best solution from the child’s point of view in each situation. When evaluating the need for child welfare services and implementing child welfare measures one must primarily take into account the best interests of the child. The Act contains a list of things to which attention must be paid, when the realisation of the best interests of the child is being evaluated. (Child Welfare Act 4 §)