Caring for a child at home
You can receive support for caring for a child at home when
- you are looking after the child at home by yourself full-time
- you are looking after the child at home by yourself for part of the week
- you hire a day care provider to look after your child at home.
If you are caring for a child at home, you are eligible for a child home care allowance, private day care allowance, flexible care allowance and partial care allowance. The form and amount of support is affected by such factors as the child’s age, the person taking care of the child, and whether the child is looked after at home full-time. Apply for the benefits from Kela.
If you care for your child who is under 3 years old at home, you are entitled to a child home care allowance. Kela pays a child home care allowance for children who are under 3 and are not in municipal day care, i.e. who do not participate in early childhood education.
If you are looking after the below-school-aged siblings of the under-3-year-old child, you will also be eligible for a child home care allowance for looking after them as well. The payment of the allowance for all your children will end once the youngest member of the family turns three.
The child home care allowance is available to fathers, mothers and other guardians. The recipient of the allowance can also be another adult who is the principal carer of the child. If you are employed, you can go on a child care leave to look after your child and receive the child home care allowance for the duration of your leave. Only one of the parents can go on child care leave and be the recipient of the child home care allowance at the same time.
An adoptive parent may receive the child home care allowance for a period of two years after the start of the parental allowance period or up until when the child begins going to school.
The child home care allowance consists of a care allowance and care supplement. Some municipalities also pay an additional municipal supplement.
The largest care allowance is paid for one child aged under 3 years. If the child has siblings who are below school age and who are cared for at home, the care allowance paid for them is lower.
The care supplement is determined on the basis of the number of children in your family and the family’s total income. The family can get a care supplement for only one child.
Other benefits, such as parental, sickness and unemployment allowance, may affect the child home care allowance. Read more about parental allowance from the page Leave and benefits for the parents of small children.
You are entitled to go on an unpaid child care leave without your employment being terminated. You can be on child care leave until your child turns three. Notify your employer of your child care leave at the latest two months before beginning your leave.
You have the right to take at most two separate periods of child care leave both of which are at least one month in length. However, you can make arrangements with your employer on shorter child care leave periods, if you both agree to this.
Only one of the child’s parents can be on child care leave at a time.
If you have been employed by the same employer for a period of at least six months during the past twelve months, you are also eligible to go on a part-time child care leave. In this case, you and your employer can come to an agreement on reducing your work time. You can take part-time child care leave until your child completes his or her second year of comprehensive school.
Both parents can be on part-time child care leave at the same time but cannot care for the child during the same hours. You can for example take care of your child on alternate weeks or days.
If, on average, you work 30 hours or less per week and you look after your child who is under 3 years of age for the rest of the week, you are eligible for a flexible care allowance from Kela. Both of the child’s parents are eligible for a flexible care allowance if they look after the child at different times, for example every other day or week.
You are eligible for a partial care allowance when you work up to 30 hours per week because you are also looking after your child who is in the 1st or 2nd grade. Both of the child’s parents are eligible for a partial care allowance if they look after the child at different times.
Please note that there is no form of support that is provided for the part-time home care of a child who is over 3 years old but below school age.
If you employ a day care provider to look after your under-3-year-old child at home, you can choose which of the following to apply for from Kela:
- child home care allowance
- private day care allowance.
If you choose home care subsidy, you can use the subsidy to pay the day care provider’s salary. If you choose private day care allowance, Kela will pay the allowance directly to the day care provider you have employed.
When the child is over three years old, you can apply to Kela only for private day care allowance. You are eligible for the private day care allowance until your child begins going to school.
If you employ a day care provider together with other parents, each family is separately entitled to child home care allowance and private day care allowance.
When you hire a day care provider to look after your child, you become an employer. As an employer, you are responsible for the day care provider’s pension insurance contributions and other employer’s responsibilities in addition to paying the salary. Read more about the matters that you have to take into account when hiring a day care provider on the page Employing a care provider or a home help.
As the only parent in the family, you may get a single-parent supplement to the child benefit. If the child does not have another parent or the other parent is unable to pay maintenance, you are entitled to child maintenance allowance from Kela. If your income is small, you may also be eligible for other benefits, such as the housing allowance. For more information about the benefits that are available to you, contact Kela.
Help and support is available from such organisations as the Union of Single-Parent Families (Yhden Vanhemman Perheiden Liitto) and the Single Parent Association.
Municipalities, organisations and parishes organise club activities that are usually free of charge. In these clubs, children play, sing, engage in physical activities and do arts and crafts.
Daytime clubs for small children usually last two hours at the most. Food or snacks are usually not provided in the clubs. Club activities are also organised at playgrounds.
You can also visit an open day-care centre with your child and spend a few hours at a time there free of charge.
For more information, contact your municipality.