Taking into care safeguards the child’s best interests
Supporting the child’s life at home is always the priority in child welfare. However, home is not always the best place to live.
The child’s best interests are the priority in all actions taken by the authorities. The purpose of child welfare is to safeguard the child’s right to a safe environment for growing up and balanced development. If there are no other means to safeguard the child’s best interests, the child may also be placed outside the home.
There may be violence, substance abuse or indifference in the family. A child that self-harms may also need protection from himself or herself.
A child may be placed outside the home on a short-term basis or urgently.
Short-term placement by non-institutional social care is always voluntary. It may be related to exacerbated family relationships, for example.
Sometimes even the whole family may be placed to live outside the home. This is done especially if one of the parents is in rehabilitation because of substance abuse or mental health problems.
An emergency placement is only carried out if the child is in immediate danger and he or she is not cared for. For example, the situation may be related to substance abuse. It can be done against the child’s or the parents’ will.
Emergency placement is temporary. The authorities work with the parents of an urgently placed child so that the child could return to live at home.
If the situation does not improve despite the efforts, a decision by the social services or a court order is issued to take the child into care and the child is placed outside the home.
Family care with relatives or other close people or in a foster family is the primary alternative. Residential group homes and child welfare institutions are also alternatives. The decision is based on the best interests of the child.
A child who has turned 12 already has the right to speak and to be heard in child welfare decisions concerning himself or herself. The wishes and opinion of children of all ages should be assessed and taken into consideration as much as possible. The child is entitled to meet his or her parents and other close relatives even when in care, if it is in the child’s best interests.