ESPN Thematic Report on Social Investment: Finland
- The importance of the social investment paradigm varies from policy to policy. Sometimes the very same policy domain has explicit social investment goals, but simultaneously it may include elements that contradict the EU idea of social investment.
- The social investment paradigm in Finland is applied to children even before their birth. Municipal free of charge maternity and child health clinics provide advice and medical counselling for the expectant mother. Prenatal small group classes and childbirth coaching sessions for first time mothers and fathers are organised to prepare the future parents for the delivery and parenthood.
- Child health clinics assess the physical, mental and social condition of children under school age, provide vaccinations and support parents in providing secure, child-focused rearing, whilst also helping them take care of their relationships. The clinics carry out multi-professional collaboration with other professionals working with young families.
- A maternity package is given for free to each child. The package contains children's clothes and other necessary items. The most important role of the package is that it creates an incentive to participate in prenatal health screening: In order to receive the package the mother must have undergone a medical examination.
- Free meals are available from kindergartens to colleges while post-college student meals are subsidised.
- In Finland, pupils’ skills are linked to the parents’ education and socio-economic position to a lesser extent than in most other PISA countries. However, fiscal consolidation, the increasing number of pupils in classrooms, and savings in special education and training may create problems in the long run.
- There is a wide range of services targeted at families with children. The problem is that the emphasis on fiscal consolidation has eroded the possibilities of fully and effectively utilising all the options. Municipalities solve their economic problems in straightforward ways, i.e. cutting services without considering the social investment aspect.
- Municipalities concentrate on those measures they are legally obliged to carry out. Spending is geared towards ‘heavy’ services – i.e. child protection measures.
- instead of ‘light’ investment-like services such as home help and support for families. In the last two decades the role of home help services has dramatically decreased.
- There is an alarming increase in child custody cases, particularly among the 15-16 age group and among 2 year olds. This trend calls for stronger support and better coordination of services for families in need.
- There are municipalities that have successfully reversed this worrying trend and, by investing more in home help and family services, they have been able to simultaneously cut down expenditure and enhance social investment.
- In some ECEC areas investment in children is an explicit theme (e.g. in pre-primary education), whereas some policy measures, (e.g. home care allowance), may contradict the goal. Furthermore, home care allowance may become a trap for women by hindering their employment prospects.
- A wide variety of measures supporting parents’ labour market participation are available: subjective right to day care, part-time care, flexible care, temporary care leave.
- For labour market inclusion there are rehabilitative policies available: vocational, medical, and social rehabilitation, rehabilitative work experience and rehabilitative psychotherapy.
- The youth guarantee was started in Finland in 2013, and all job seekers have a number of options to improve their workability: labour market training, self-motivated study, work try-outs, preparatory training for working life, on-the-job training, work and training try-outs, integration measures for immigrants and rehabilitative work activity. The problem is not the number of options. Improving coordination of measures and actors would lead to better results.
Olli Kangas, Laura Kalliomaa-Puha
- Vertaisarvioitu: ei.
- Avoin saatavuus: kyllä.
- Koko viite: Kangas, O., & Kalliomaa-Puha, L. (2015). ESPN Thematic Report on Social Investment: Finland. European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=13817&langId=en