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. 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.
Alternative care means arranging the welfare of a child that has been taken into care, placed urgently away from the child’s home or taken into care by a temporary order by the Administrative Court.
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 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 as well as substitute care and after-care.
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.
The Child Welfare Act determines regulations concerning child welfare. In addition to the Child Welfare Act, the Social Welfare Act, the Child Custody and Right of Access Act and the Convention on the Rights of the Child also govern the protection and treatment of children.
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 and after care services. In Finland, these institutions are relatively small and their aim is to offer children a home-like environment. They comply with the law and their activities and they are monitored.
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 social workers work in the public sector. Their 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 professionally qualified in accordance with the law.
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.
In the context of child welfare, 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.
Emergency placement means that a child who is in immediate danger can be taken away from their home. For example, an emergency placement may be required if the circumstances at home or lack of proper childcare pose an immediate danger to the child’s health or development, or when the child’s guardians are temporarily unable to look after the child and this poses an immediate danger to the child’s health or development.
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.
Emergency Youth Shelters help young people and their families settle difficult life situations.
A family carer is a person who provides family care in his or her own home.
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 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.
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 means that the care, raising and nurturing of a child placed in care is arranged outside of the child’s home in a private home of a foster family or in professional foster care.
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.
The parents of a foster family are called foster parents. Foster parents are also known as family carers.
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 means an assessment, carried out by a social worker, of the circumstances in which the child is being raised and of the parent’s ability to care for and raise a child. If the assessment establishes any need for child welfare services, the family becomes a client of child welfare services.
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.
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 means a situation in which a child or the entire family is placed away from their home on a short-term basis. Open care placement is always voluntary.
Pre-primary education is intended for all children under school age the year prior to beginning of compulsory education. Children are usually enrolled to preschool education in the year when they turn six. They learn through playing and activities with other children and are thus better prepared for school. All children must attend pre-primary education, which is free. Parents must ensure that their children attend pre-primary education or other activities that reach the objectives set for pre-primary education. In Finland, pre-primary education is offered at day-care centres and schools.
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.
A professional foster home is a form of family care and refers to a home that is authorised to operate as a foster home as provided in law.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ensure that the child’s best interest is served.
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 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. 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 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.
When evaluating the need for child welfare services and implementing child welfare measures, the best interests of the child must primarily be taken into account, i.e. seeking the best solution for the child.