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					           Child Welfare Act 2008
• Previous Child Welfare Act 1983
• Slides in Finnish : Chief Legal Counsel Tapio
  Räty, Helsinki City Social Services
• Unofficial translation into English: the Central
  Union for Child Welfare
• Slides can be freely used, possible feedback
  and comments to: the Central Union for Child
  Welfare, Communications

9.8.2012             Unofficial translation          1
• Emphasis on preventive child welfare
• Improving the position of the family and the child and increasing legal
• Emphasising the responsibility of health care authorities
• The child welfare plan for the municipality
• Provisions concerning the child’s right to have a say
• Procedural provisions; the start of a client relationship, determining the
  need for child welfare measures and emphasising the significance of the
  client plan
• Applying for permission to have a child examined
• Child welfare notification and the duty to make a request for an investigation
• Decision-making on taking children into care is now the responsibility of the
  provincial administrative courts, direct appeal to the administrative court
• Emphasising the role of the social worker in charge of matters pertaining to
  the child as well as supervision and registers
• Expanding the obligation to provide after-care

 9.8.2012                         Unofficial translation                      2
 Structure of the Child Welfare Act
Chapter 1. General provisions

Chapter 2. Promoting the well-being of children

Chapter 3. Arranging child welfare

Chapter 4. Involvement of the child

Chapter 5. Becoming a child welfare client

Chapter 6. Rules of procedure

9.8.2012               Unofficial translation     3
 Structure of the Child Welfare Act
Chapter 7. Open care
Chapter 8. Emergency placement of a child
Chapter 9. Taking into care
Chapter 10. Substitute care
Chapter 11. Restrictions in substitute care
Chapter 12. After-care

9.8.2012               Unofficial translation   4
 Structure of the Child Welfare Act

Chapter 13. Supervision

Chapter 14. Administrative court processing

Chapter 15. Appeals

Chapter 16. Special provisions

Chapter 17. Entry into force provisions

9.8.2012              Unofficial translation   5
            Sect. 1. – Objective

 A child’s right

• to a safe growing environment

• to a balanced and well-rounded development

• to special protection

9.8.2012            Unofficial translation     6
           Sect. 3. (2) – Child welfare
Child-specific and family-specific child welfare

      • Investigation of the need for child welfare
      • Open care support measures
      • Emergency placement
      • Taking into care
      • After-care

9.8.2012                  Unofficial translation      7
           Sect. 3. (3) – Child welfare
Preventive child welfare
• Responsibility rests on all municipal
• Promoting and ensuring:
      – Children’s growth
      – Development
      – Well-being
      – Support in parenting

9.8.2012                 Unofficial translation   8
           Sect. 4. – Main principles
• Promoting the favourable development and
  well-being of the child
• Support for parents, custodians and others
  responsible for upbringing and care
• Aiming at preventive measures
• Intervening sufficiently early
• Best interests of the child must be taken into

9.8.2012             Unofficial translation        9
           Sect. 4. – Main principles
• The principle of discretion
• The principle of proportion
• The principle of least intrusive measure
• Open care support measures must be given
• The aim to reunite the family

9.8.2012             Unofficial translation   10
 Sect. 5. – Views and wishes of the
            child or youth
When the need for child welfare is being
assessed or when a decision is being made
concerning a child or youth, it is necessary
to pay special attention to the child’s or
• Opinions
• Wishes

9.8.2012           Unofficial translation      11
      Sect. 9. – Support for schooling
Municipalities must provide school
psychologist and social worker

•Sufficient support and guidance for pupils
concerning schooling and preventing or
eliminating social and psychological
difficulties affecting the development

9.8.2012           Unofficial translation     12
       Sect. 12. – Plan for arranging and
       developing child welfare services
•    To be drawn up by municipalities
•    Approved by the municipal council
•    Reviewed at least once every 4 years
•    Includes information on:
      – Environment of upbringing and state of well-being of children and youths
      – Measures and services for promoting the well-being and for problem
      – Need for child welfare measures
      – Allocated resources
      – Child welfare service system
      – Arrangements for cooperation
      – Implementation and supervision

9.8.2012                            Unofficial translation                         13
               Sect. 14. – Safeguarding
              multiprofessional expertise
The social worker must have at his disposal
  expertise in:
      –    Child growth and development
      –    Health care
      –    Legal issues
      –    Other issues related to child welfare work

Team of child welfare experts
      –    Mandatory, set up by one or more municipalities
      –    social welfare and health care representatives
      –    experts on child growth and development
      –    other experts

9.8.2012                        Unofficial translation       14
           Sect. 15. – Special health care
• Health centres and hospital districts must
  provide expert assistance in child-specific and
  family-specific welfare
• Where necessary, examination, treatment and
  therapeutic services for the child must be
• In cases of suspected sexual abuse or assault
  the services in connection with the
  investigation must be provided urgently
9.8.2012               Unofficial translation   15
 Sect. 20. – Ascertaining the child’s
    views and hearing the child
• The child’s wishes and views must be heard and
  taken into account in accordance with the age and
  maturity of the child
• This may not be undertaken if it
      – endangers the health or development of the child
      – is otherwise clearly unnecessary
      • In connection with hearing the child, the child
        must not be given any information that would
        endanger the child’s development.

9.8.2012                    Unofficial translation         16
     Section 21. – Exercising a child’s
            right to be heard
A child who has attained the age of 12 is entitled
to a say in child welfare cases concerning
  • Right to initiate
  • Right to be heard
  • right to be granted a decision
  • right of appeal

9.8.2012            Unofficial translation       17
     Sect. 24. – Responsibility for
safeguarding the interests of the child
Social worker responsible for a child’s affairs
• Provides aid for the child in having a say
• Directs the child to seek legal advice
• Ensures that an application for a trustee is made
Duty to be present
• In any preliminary investigation
• At court hearings
• During the handling concerning expulsion from
9.8.2012               Unofficial translation         18
           Sect. 25. – Duty to notify
Obligation to notify:
• Persons employed by, or in a position of trust for,
  social and health care services, education or youth
  services, the police or a parish or other religious
  community (except for seal of the confessional)
• Other social and health care services suppliers
• Education or training provider
• Persons engaged in asylum seekers reception or
  emergency centre activities
• Persons engaged in the morning and afternoon
  activities of schoolchildren
• Health care professionals
9.8.2012               Unofficial translation           19
           Sect. 25. – Duty to notify
Professionals have a duty to notify without delay and
regardless of confidentiality provisions, if they have
discovered through their work that, on account of the
•need for care and treatment,
•circumstances endangering the development,
it is necessary to investigate the need for child welfare
Other persons may submit a notification regardless of
confidentiality provisions
9.8.2012                Unofficial translation              20
           Sect. 25. – Duty to notify
The municipal body must keep a register of child
welfare notifications and their contents.

Changes of address:
The child moves away from the municipality and
•the assessment regarding the need for child welfare
measures remains incomplete
•the child is already a client of child protection services
The former municipality has a duty to notify the new
municipality .

9.8.2012                 Unofficial translation           21
           Sect. 25. – Duty to notify
The police must be notified if
• There are reasonable grounds to suspect that
  the child has been subject of an action
  punishable by law (the Penal Code , chapter
  20 or 21) for which the maximum penalty
  prescribed is at least two years of

9.8.2012             Unofficial translation   22
     Sect. 26. – Initiation of proceedings in a child
         welfare case and the start of a client
     • Application
     • Child welfare notification
     • Other manner

     The possible urgent need for a child protection
       measure must be assessed immediately.

     A decision whether to begin investigating the need
       for child welfare measures must be made within 7
       working days.

     Notification to the child and the custodian.
9.8.2012                  Unofficial translation       23
   Sect. 27. – Investigating the need
            for child welfare
• Assessing the situation of the child
• Assessing the need for services
• Must be completed without undue delay,
  within three months after the initiation of the
• Notifications to custodian and child

9.8.2012            Unofficial translation          24
           Sect. 29. – Access to the child
• Meetings in person
• Sufficiently often
• Collaboration with the child’s custodian or
  other person responsible for the child’s care:
      – Consent / even without consent of custodian
      – notification to custodian

9.8.2012                 Unofficial translation       25
                  Sect. 30. – Client plan
• Must always be drawn up, except in cases of
  temporary guidance and advice
• In cooperation with the child’s custodian
• If necessary
      –    another legal representative
      –    parent
      –    a person in charge of the child’s care
      –    another key person involved in the child’s care
• To be documented
      –    the circumstances and issues requiring attention
      –    the need for support
      –    services and support measures
      –    differences in opinion
      –    Reference points (at least once a year)
9.8.2012                        Unofficial translation        26
  Sect. 36. – Other child welfare support in
                  open care
• Assistance in problem situation involving the
  child and family
• Financial assistance
• Support person and support family
• Care and therapy services supporting
• Family work
• Placement of the whole family
• Peer group
• Holiday and recreational activities
• Other services and support measures
9.8.2012            Unofficial translation        27
    Sect. 37. – Placement as support
               in open care
• Family care or institutional care together with custodian,
  parent or other person
• For the child alone on a short-term basis, with consent of
  custodian and 12-year-old child
      – for the assessment of the child’s need for support
      – for the child’s rehabilitation
      – for providing temporary care for the child
• Not if the preconditions for taking the child into care are met
• No recurrent short-term placements; only when in the best
  interests of the child
• Consent of both custodians, with the exception of extenuating
  circumstances / difference of opinion
9.8.2012                          Unofficial translation        28
   Sect. 38. – Emergency placement
                of a child
     • The child is in imminent danger
     • Otherwise in need of an emergency placement
        /institutional care
     A child may be urgently placed into
     • foster care
     • Institutional care
     • The care may be arranged in some other way
     Prior to the decision, the views and perceptions of
     • the child
     • the parents, the custodian or other persons
        responsible for the child’s care
     must be ascertained
9.8.2012                  Unofficial translation           29
     Sect. 40. – Duty to take a child into
      care and provide substitute care
 Taking a child into care and substitute care has to be arranged if
   • the deficiencies in the child’s care or other circumstances
      relating to the growing environment seriously threaten the
      health or development of the child
   • the child puts his/her health/development at risk through
      his/her actions and behaviour

As a further requirement, that the support measures of open
   care are not:
   • appropriate , possible, sufficient and
That substitute care is estimated to be in the best interests of
   the child

9.8.2012                    Unofficial translation                 30
   Sect. 45. – Custody of children taken
                 into care
When a child has been taken into care, the municipal
body has the right, in order to implement the purpose
of taking into care, to decide upon the child’s
•other forms of care
•necessary education
•health care
Obligation to cooperate with parents, custodian and
9.8.2012               Unofficial translation           31
  Sect. 47. – Duration and termination
                 of care
• The custody continues until further notice
• To be terminated if no longer necessary,
  unless not in the best interests of the child
• Is terminated when the child reaches the age
  of eighteen.

9.8.2012            Unofficial translation        32
        Sect. 75. – Children’s and young
       people’s entitlement to after-care
After-care must be provided
• after the termination of the substitute care
• after the termination of an open care placement
  applied to the child alone, if the placement has
  lasted at least six months
The obligation to provide after-care expires at the latest
  when the youth reaches 21 years of age.
After-care can also be provided for the youth who has
  otherwise been a client of child welfare

9.8.2012                Unofficial translation           33

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