A short-term placement is a jointly-agreed solution

In a difficult situation, a child or family may be placed away from home for a short while as a support measure in open care. Open care placement is always voluntary.

A child may be placed for a short time, if it is predicted that the situation will improve quickly. For example, if the relationship between parents and a young person deteriorates to the extent that living together seems impossible, we may suggest that the young person lives away from home for a while. The parents still completely decide on the child’s care and affairs. The parents may also be participating in rehabilitation owing to their own problems with alcohol or drugs or mental health, and then all the family will live temporarily in an institution. If necessary, placement as a support measure in open care can be implemented immediately.

Emergency placement is implemented if a child is in danger

If a child needs help immediately, and no one close to the child can take care of them, the child welfare services must take the child to a safe place. This is called emergency placement.

Emergency placement is always a temporarily order. It may be implemented, for example, if the parents are so intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs that they cannot take care of the child or if the child is left alone at home for a long time. The child may also cause danger to themselves by using alcohol or other drugs, for example. If it is evaluated that the child is in immediate danger, placement can be implemented even if the child or parents object to it.

During placement, the child welfare services have extensive rights to decide on the child’s affairs, though they work closely with parents and guardians. The family’s situation and need for help is investigated during emergency placement. The aim is that the child can return to a safe home. The social worker evaluates whether placement can be ended, and issues a decision terminating placement. If it is evaluated that it is not safe for the child to return home, preparations for actually taking the child into care can be initiated.

Taking into care is the final option

Taking into care means that a child is cared for away from home. It is the final option only to be used if the problems are really serious or if they have been ongoing for a long time. Usually before taking into care is implemented, many things have already occurred, and there have been significant efforts to help the child and family. When nothing else works, the law stipulates that a child must be taken into care. The authorities work closely with the child’s parents and guardians, and the social workers cannot decide on certain matters such as the child’s religion.