Children in need of special support may be granted a support person or a support family, helping both the children and their families. Support persons will receive a compensation for their work, as well as a compensation for their expenses.
Support persons and support families work in a systematic, confidential and goal-oriented, voluntary basis. Meetings between the support person and the child/young person are most often arranged around some activity. Usually, there are 2–4 meetings in a month. Support families usually take care of the child for one weekend in a month. All activities are bound by confidentiality obligations. In order to be granted a support person or family, you have be registered as a client, either according to the Finnish Social Welfare Act or at the local child welfare institution.
Support families and support persons are completely ordinary, reliable adults. They must have time, skills and willingness to spend time with children and young people, showing that they care and coming up with new ideas for activities. We recommend that you can commit yourself to the task for at least one year. All interested in working as a support person or family are required to complete a support family course. The municipality organizes courses once or twice a year. They are free of charge. Support persons and support families will also have to present a current extract from the criminal record.
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If you’re interested in working as a support person or family, please contact the municipal unit Social Services for Families with Children.
Basic information and legislation
A support person or family may be organised for a child in need of special support and their family. The child does not need to be a client of the child welfare services in order to be assigned a support person.
The support person meets the child for a couple of hours every week or two weeks, and they spend time or pursue hobbies together. In support family activities the child may, for example, spend one weekend a month with the support family.
The support person or family is paid a fee, and their expenses are reimbursed. Training is available for these roles. The support persons and families have a duty of non-disclosure, which continues when they no longer serve as support persons.