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Balanced childhood is a base for good life - Embassy of Finland, Athens : Current Affairs : News


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News, 11/20/2017

Balanced childhood is a base for good life

The Day of Children's Rights is celebrated in Finland on 20 November. The majority of young and school age children in Finland are healthy and feel well. Though the socio-economic differences of the population can effect children. Every child is entitled to a good and happy childhood.

Photo: Kuvasiskot, Historian kuvakokoelma, Museoviraston kuvakokoelmat
Terttu Arajärvi
Terttu Arajärvi

Professor of children´s psychiatry Terttu Arajärvi was interested in taking care of children. This was the reason she specialized in childbirth. She was teaching on this field already at the beginning of the 1950's.

When a place was open at the University Hospital of Helsinki, she applied for a permanent job, but did not get the place. After feeling that she had been skipped because of her gender, she specialized in psychiatry and became a pioneer in children´s psychiatry.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Terttu Arajärvi participated in a vibrant public debate on understanding and preventing mental health problems for children and young people. A research fund was named after her and the fund supports early interaction between children and psychiatric research of children under school age.

Balance between work and life needs flexibility

Balancing work and family life improves wellbeing both at home and in the workplace. Finns pay high taxes but get a lot in return for their money. Families with children are especially well taken care of by society, and their lives are made easier by the many types of support and benefits available.

For expectant mothers maternity clinics provide family support, with attention to relationships and parenting. Special emphasis is placed on the role of fathers and parental responsibility. Attending a maternity clinic is one of the preconditions for eligibility for maternity benefit.

NEUVOLA – a video about the Finnish maternity clinic

The maternity package turns 80 years

Maternity package is a tradition that dates back to the 1937 and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more. The maternity package contains baby clothes as well as care products and materials. There are altogether 50 different items in the box.  It is updated yearly in response to feedback from clients. The new colourful pattern for year 2018 was launched in November and it is a hit.

Photo: KELA, Annika Söderblom

Parental leave

In Finland both parents can take parental leave. During the parental leave, Kela (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland) pays parental allowance for 158 working days (about half a year).  Parents can agree between themselves how to use the parental leave entitlement. They can split the parental leave, or only one parent can go on leave. However they cannot both be on parental leave at the same time - with the exception of parents of multiple births. Each parent can take their parental leave in one or two blocks of time.

Child benefit

Kela also pays child benefit for each child who is permanently resident in Finland. The payment continues until the end of the month when the child is 17 years old. The entitlement to the child benefit is based on residence and it is tax-free income. The benefit for the first child is now 94,88 €/month. The amount of the child benefit increases with the number of children.

The Ombudsman for Children

Children's rights are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Finland ratified the Convention in 1991. The agreement binds the state, municipalities, parents and other adults to the implementation of children's rights in various fields. In Finland the Ombudsman for Children monitors the implementation of the rights of the child.

Brochure Home and Family (pdf)

Ombudsman for Children

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Updated 11/16/2017

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