Services to families

Services aimed at families support parents or other guardians in their efforts to ensure the well-being and good upbringing of children.

Early childhood education and care

Finnish early childhood education and care combines education, teaching and care that promote the balanced growth, development and learning of children. As a municipal service, children can be cared for on a full-time or part-time basis at a daycare centre, in family day care or in group family day care. In addition, private day care services, congregations and organisations offer alternative care arrangements.

Pre-primary education and morning and afternoon activities

Before starting school, children receive pre-primary education that supports learning by play. Pre-primary education is organised in connection with a daycare centre or school.

Year 1 and 2 pupils can participate in guided morning and afternoon activities at schools outside the scope of lessons (before-school and after-school activities). The activities are available for pupils with special needs in all grades.

Maternity and child health clinics

Maternity clinics support the wellbeing of expectant mothers, fathers and the foetus and newborn. Child health clinics monitor and support the physical, psychological and social development and healthy growth of children under school age, as well as the wellbeing of the whole family.

Child guidance and family counselling

Child guidance and family counselling services provide expert help in case of problems concerning children or family relationships. Conciliation for family members also includes matters related to child care, visiting rights and maintenance.

Child welfare

Child welfare assistance in open care promotes favourable child development in situations where the parents cannot alone manage their child’s care and upbringing. Preventive work and assistance in open care aim at supporting children and families as early as possible when they need support. In situations defined by the Child Welfare Act, a child can be taken into care and placed in substitute care (family care or institutional care).

Adoption

Persons considering adoption can get guidance at local social services offices and from Save the Children organisation. The guidance is free of charge. It is possible to apply for an adoption grant for the expenses of adoption.

Health services

Maternity and child welfare clinics, school health services, student healthcare services and oral health services provide healthcare, oral healthcare and medical care for children and young people.

Custody, maintenance, acknowledgement of paternity

If the child’s parents are not living together, an agreement must be made on the child’s custody, maintenance and visiting rights. Child support and child maintenance allowance ensure financial security to the child. The Paternity Act lays down provisions on the acknowledgement and legal establishment of paternity.

Family centres

Family centres gather together local services for families, such as a maternity and child welfare clinic, early childhood education services and school services, as well as local services related to early support and family work. Activities organised by NGOs and parishes for families with children may constitute a part of the service network of family centres. Thanks to their diversified service network, family centres can also detect problems of children and families at an early stage and provide necessary help.

Further information

Marjo Malja, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Social Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Hyvinvointi- ja palveluosasto / HPO, Palvelut-yksikkö / PAL, Lapset ja nuoret-tulosryhmä / LANU 0295163581