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Family services in Helsinki

Father, mother and two children walking in a residential area in Helsinki

Family services in Helsinki extend to much more than just health and dental care. Social service professionals are standing at the ready to help with a broad array of issues. 

There is no stigma associated with arranging for couple’s therapy to talk about issues in your personal relationship, starting family counselling to work through a difficult period with a teenager, or revealing housing or financial problems to a social worker. You can count on Helsinki social services and healthcare professionals to be respectful, confidential and discreet. 

All family services in Helsinki operate by the principle that professional help should be available 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.

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 stations. Nurses and physicians in these clinics specialise in the care of expectant mothers, infants and small children.

Staff perform regular check-ups on pregnant women 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 services for young families, all under one roof. In addition to their area’s maternity and child health clinic, the centres provide things such as home services, speech therapy, a family counselling office, physiotherapy and child welfare services.

Generous parental leave

Family services in Helsinki support families in many ways. Parents in Helsinki are entitled to generous family leave and 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 (due date after 4 September 2022). In two-parent families, each parent is entitled half of the leave, or 160 days, but parents can choose to give up to 63 days of their personal quota to the other parent. 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?

Please refer to the Kela website’s Families section and its Quick guide for families with children that presents the 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 if you are struggling with your everyday living, housing or money matters. Sections of the city’s social services also serve specific groups like the homeless 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. Contact mayk@hel.fi or call +358 9 310 37573 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 in Helsinki?

The 24/7 Emergency Social Services phone service at +358 20 696 006 provides support and guidance to people with marital, child-rearing or financial problems or issues with substance abuse. The service also provides urgent service needs assessments.

Who can I call if there is an emergency mental health issue in Helsinki?

Helsinki’s Crisis Emergency Support phone service at +358 9 310 44 222 offers round-the-clock mental health support in crisis situations and makes home visits if necessary.

Youth services

Finnish schools tend to focus on academics, so the nation has developed the idea of a municipally-run youth centre (nuorisotalo). This is a local place where tweens and teens aged 9 to 18 can go to hang out and spend time together. 

Helsinki has very active youth services that run over 60 youth centres. Located in every major neighbourhood of the city, these public centres offer substance-free activities, events, and socialisation opportunities. Youth services 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.

Senior services

In line with its principle of low-threshold assistance for people of all ages, Helsinki organises many services for the elderly to make their lives easier. For example, assisted living facilities are available to seniors who need more extensive assistance, while home care services, service centre activities and meal delivery services 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. The city’s Senior-info phone service gives information about elderly services arranged by the municipality and several other organisations every weekday at tel. +358 9 3104 4556.