Child Welfare Foster Care

Support provided by Child Welfare non-institutional care is not always enough. In these cases, it’s in the children’s best interest to be placed outside their parental home. A child’s health and development can be seriously threatened because of for example:

  • flaws in the child's care or other life circumstances
  • situations where children themselves act in a way to pose a serious threat to their own health and development

Emergency placement refers to a situation where the child is immediately taken into care by the authorities. Custody means a situation where a child is taken into the care of a social welfare authority and placed in a substitute home until further notice. Foster care refers to situations where children are taken care of outside their parental home. The placement may be arranged in one of the following:

  • as care provided by someone near to the family, or with relatives
  • in foster care
  • in a child welfare institution, or in a professional foster home

After the placement, the child has the right to receive aftercare during which the work supporting the child and their family is continued up to the year when the child turns 25 at the latest.

Basic information and legislation

Child welfare substitute care means organising the care and upbringing of a child who has been taken into care outside their home. The municipality which has placed the child in substitute care shall also be responsible for organising the care and covering its costs. In principle, this is usually the child’s municipality of residence.

The purpose of substitute care is to safeguard the child’s balanced development and well-being. Substitute care can be provided as family care, in an institution or otherwise as indicated by the child's needs. The child’s opinion must also be taken into account where possible when organising substitute care. The child has a right to stay in contact with their parents and other persons close to them during substitute care. This right can only be restricted if it were to compromise the implementation of the purpose of substitute care or be otherwise harmful for the child.

In exceptional cases, a child who has been taken into care can also be placed with their parent or other guardian for no more than six months, for example when their return home is being prepared after the child has spent some time in substitute care.