Taking into care is prepared together with the family

Taking into care is a long process, which is usually prepared in co-operation with the family. In most cases, taking into care is implemented in co-operation with the child and family.

The grounds for the decision to take a child into care are always provided in writing. Social workers collect all relevant information and they also have to listen to the family’s opinions about the issues. The grounds for the decision to take a child into care must:

  • present the grounds for the claim that a child’s safety has been at risk.
  • explain the manner in which the social services have tried to help the child and why these measures have proven inadequate, and
  • justify how taking into care helps the child and why it is a better option for the child than staying at home.

The parents and the child have a right of access to documents in which the grounds for taking into care are presented. A meeting must also be arranged to explain to them these grounds.

Sometimes taking into care must be implemented even though the family opposes it

If a child who is 12 or older or the child’s guardians oppose the act of taking into care, a court must rule on the case. The Administrative Court will be informed about the situation and rule in the best interests of the child. Decisions of taking into care issued by the Administrative Court can be appealed.

Social workers must provide guidance for the families in contradictory situations. This means that when a child and family are notified of the decision issued on taking into care, the workers must also tell to whom and how the decision can be appealed.

Taking into care is always a difficult and complex issue, and its intention is not to act against anybody, but to help the child or young person and his or her family.

A child taken into care goes to live in a foster family or child welfare institution

Alternative care means that a child taken into care or a child placed in care is being cared for away from the child’s home. Usually a child taken into care lives either with a foster family or a child welfare institution. Prior to a child’s placing away from home, the child welfare workers need to ascertain whether any one close to the child can take care of him or her. When choosing an alternative care place, the child’s linguistic, cultural and religious background should be taken into account as far as possible.

The reasons for taking into care are explained to the child, including the objectives of alternative care. The child must be given sufficient opportunities to meet the social worker responsible for the child’s affairs.

Taking into care does not mean that the child could not have contact with his or her parents. The child has a right to meet his or her parents and others close to him or her, as well as communicate with them. All these matters are also recorded in the child’s client plan. The child’s meetings and communication with the parents may be restricted only if they are harmful to the child on reasonable grounds. In this case, a decision on the matter must be issued, which can be appealed against. A child aged 12 or older also has the right to refuse to meet the parents, if he or she so wishes.

Taking into care lasts as long as the child needs it

Taking into care is valid only as long as the child needs it. The duration depends, for example, on how well the parents are able to take care of their affairs and themselves during placement. The child welfare services aim to provide a child and family during placement with such support measures by which a child can return home. The social worker responsible for the child’s affairs must evaluate at least once a year whether to continue keeping the child in care. Each case of a child being taken into care terminates at the latest when the child reaches the age of 18.