Child and youth welfare

All the Nordic countries have a range of preventive measures to ensure that children and adolescents are brought up in safe, comfortable environments. These comprise both general measures and measures specifically aimed at individual children or adolescents.
All the countries also allow public authorities to intervene in child welfare. This may consist of providing support services or, where circumstances warrant it, placing a child in care.

Preventive measures

All the Nordic countries have preventive measures focusing on the family or the child. Such measures may take the form of advisory services, practical educational support in the home, family treatment, stays in residential institutions for both parents and children, contact or support persons for the entire family, or financial support. All these measures are designed to avoid children being placed away from their homes.

Care outside the family home

All the Nordic countries recognise that it may be necessary to place a child into care away from the family home. This may be because the parents need help caring for the child, or that the child’s health or development is threatened due to neglect. Measures may also be taken if young people endanger their own health or development, e.g. through alcohol/drug abuse and/or crime.

Usually, children are taken into care with the consent of their parents. However, all the countries have the legal power to take children into care without parental consent when strict legal terms are fulfilled, and only where this is in the best interest of the child.

The number of children taken into care varies from country to country. The frequency is somewhat higher in Finland than in the other Nordic countries. In the older age groups, more boys than girls are taken into care. The differences are considerably smaller in the younger age groups.