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 foster care refers to the arrangement of the care and upbringing of a child who has been taken into care outside their home.

The purpose of foster care is to safeguard the balanced development and wellbeing of the child. Foster care can be provided as family care, in an institution or otherwise in accordance with the child’s needs. When organising foster care, the child’s opinion must be taken into account whenever possible. The child also has the right to contact their parents and other people close to them during their foster care. This right may only be restricted if it will jeopardise the realisation of the purpose of the foster care or otherwise prove harmful to the child.

In exceptional cases, a child who has been taken into foster care can also be placed with their parent or other guardian for a maximum period of six months, for example when preparing for their return home after their foster care.

The wellbeing services county that placed the child is responsible for the organisation and costs of the foster care. In practice, this is usually the wellbeing services county where the child’s municipality of residence is located.