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Child welfare

Every child has a right to a good and safe childhood. Child welfare means that social workers help children and families in problem situations. We try to solve problems before they grow too big.

Well-being of children

In Finland, families receive help and support in different situations in life.

The day-care centre, school and maternity and child health clinic monitor children’s well-being and development in many ways. If the staff members are worried about a child’s situation, they will try to provide the child and their family with support. Families themselves can also ask for help from these services.

Help and advice is also provided by:

  • wellbeing services county services for children and families with children
  • organisations and associations
  • the parish and other religious associations.

You can find information on children’s and young people’s problems and on where you can get help in difficult family situations on the InfoFinland page Problems in the family.

Sometimes, parents cannot ensure their child’s well-being. In such cases, society must intervene in the family situation. In Child Welfare, the most important thing is the child’s best interest.

Child welfare supports families in problem situations

Contact with Child Welfare starts with a child welfare notification (lastensuojeluilmoitus). A child welfare notification can be submitted by anyone who is concerned about a family’s well-being. For example, a child’s teacher can contact the child welfare authorities.

You can ask Child Welfare (lastensuojelu) for help, for example, if you are exhausted as a parent or a difficult change is about to take place in the family’s life. Child welfare also supports families if a child or teenager, for example, abuses alcohol or drugs or commits crimes.

When a child welfare notification has been received, a worker investigates the child’s situation. If the child and family need support, a child welfare client relationship begins. In child welfare work, the aim is always to cooperate with the parents.

Child Welfare has many methods for helping families. The main aim is always to help the child so that they can continue living at home. Most commonly, child welfare services are services in open care (avohuollon palvelu), discussions, guidance, counselling and family work. A social worker can arrange, for example, home help (kotiapu) or a support person (tukihenkilö) for the family.

If there is violence or substance abuse in the family, a child welfare social worker will intervene. If the child is not safe at home or the situation with the child is very difficult, a decision on the placement (sijoitus) or taking into care (huostaanotto) of the child can be taken by Child Welfare. In such a case, the child will live, for example, in a foster family and will not be able to return home until it is safe to do so. 

Child welfare services and activities are founded in the law

Child welfare is founded on the Child Welfare Act and international conventions. The Child Welfare Act applies to all children who live in Finland. The applicability is not dependent on their nationality, religion or culture.

More information about Child Welfare

The website offers information on Child Welfare and services for families with children in Finland in many languages. The website also contains a child welfare glossary, which explains the meaning of the various concepts.