Family services in Helsinki

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Nurturing healthy families and personal wellbeing

Family and social services in Helsinki offer help at a low threshold, as early intervention can often prevent a small problem from growing into a seemingly insurmountable one. Most of these services are available at no cost.

In Helsinki, there is no stigma associated with calling social services or asking a healthcare professional for help. Just call if you need couple’s therapy to talk about issues in your personal relationship, family counselling to work through a difficult period with a teenager, for example, or housing counselling or financial advice from a social worker. You can count on Helsinki social services and healthcare professionals to be helpful, respectful and discreet. 

Maternity and child health clinics

Guidance and support for families of young children

Finland invests heavily in prenatal, neonatal and paediatric care, as time has shown that there are many societal benefits to identifying and addressing health and developmental issues at an early stage. 

Helsinki has an efficient network of maternity and child health clinics (neuvola) that serve neighbourhoods in cooperation with the local health stationsNurses and physicians in these clinics specialise in the care of expectant parents, infants and small children.

Staff perform regular check-ups on pregnant parents and growing children to monitor their progress and keep track of developmental milestones. Vaccinations are also administered at this time, according to the national vaccination programme. These appointments are a great opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns customers may have about their children, roles or family life. 

In addition to this helpful network of clinics, Helsinki also runs four Family Centres in different parts of the city. They offer an expanded selection of helpful services for young families, all under one roof. Many have special services for families from abroad, in addition to a family counselling office, speech therapy and child welfare services, to name just a few service options.

Generous parental leave

Family services in Helsinki support families in many ways. Parents can take generous family leave and receive other forms of assistance following the birth of a child, if they are eligible for state benefits.

For example, eligible parents in Finland can take an approximately 14-month parental leave from work after the birth or adoption of a child. In two-parent families, each parent can take half of the leave, or 160 days. Parents can choose to give up to 63 days of their personal quota to the other parent, if they wish. The social benefits agency Kela pays parents a parental allowance during the parental leave.

Kela also pays one parent a monthly child benefit until the child reaches the age of 17. Child care allowances and flexible care allowances are also available after the child turns two.

Where can I find more information on parental leaves, child benefits and care allowances?

The website of the social benefits agency known as Kela has more information on childcare leaves, along with a handy guide that presents Finland’s most commonly used family benefits in chronological order.

Social services

Helsinki’s social service counsellors are available to help you if you need a hand. They can offer assistance and support if you are struggling with parenting and daily livinghousing  or money matters. Sections of the city’s social services also serve specific groups like the unhoused or the long-term unemployed.

The city’s social services also offer urgent and necessary services and advocacy to people in Helsinki with an irregular status. If you are in Finland without a residence permit or the proper documentation, you may be entitled to this help. Call tel. +358 9 310 23747 on weekdays 9.00-16.00 for more information.

In Finland, parents or guardians are primarily responsible for their children’s wellbeing until the child turns 18. According to the country’s laws on child welfare, if parents or guardians are judged to be unable to do this properly, public authorities are obliged to intervene. Helsinki’s child welfare services work closely with school and health care professionals to flag worrying issues and follow up on them. Punishing children physically (corporal punishment) is against the law in Finland.

Who can I call in case of a non-medical emergency? 

The City of Helsinki’s 24/7 Emergency Social Services phone service at tel. +358 20 696 006 provides support and guidance to people with marital, child-rearing or financial problems or issues with substance abuse. For emergency mental health issues, call the Crisis Emergency Support phone service at tel. +358 9 310 44 222.

Youth Services

Helsinki has a very active youth services unit that runs a network of over 60 youth centres (nuoristotalot). Located in every major neighbourhood of the city, these public centres offer substance-free activities, events, and socialisation opportunities. Youth services employees in Helsinki also arrange countless free-time activities and opportunities for young people to get involved in various groups and local decision-making. The Youth Station at street address Siltasaarenkatu 4 in the downtown area offers help for young people who may have trouble with addiction, substance abuse or mental health issues.

City of Helsinki youth worker smiling and talking to a young person

Support for young people

Finnish schools tend to focus on academics, so the nation has developed networks of municipally-run youth centres where tweens and teens aged 9 to 18 can go to hang out and spend time together.

Senior services

In line with its principle of low-threshold assistance for people of all ages, Helsinki organises many services for older people to make their lives easier. For example, 24-hour service housing is available to seniors who need more extensive assistance, while home care servicesservice centre activities and meal delivery services, for example, allow many other older people to continue living safely in their own homes.

Family members who take care of elderly or disabled people are eligible for informal care services in Helsinki, such as day activities for the elderly.

Two older people playing billiards

Activities for older people

The city’s Senior-info phone service gives information about senior services arranged by the municipality and several other organisations every weekday at tel. +358 9 3104 4556.