The Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters is a nationwide child welfare organization that helps children and families in difficult and insecure situations and prevents violence against women and domestic violence. The Federation is the central organization for its 30 member associations.
The member associations across Finland maintain 10 mother and child homes, seven homes for substance-abusing pregnant women and families with infants and 19 shelters for the victims of domestic violence. All of the associations also have daytime support services. More than 23,000 people, approximately 6,600 of whom are children, use the associations’ services every year.
The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters is a non-profit organization whose premise and objective is the welfare of the child. We stand by families in difficult circumstances in our society and are not afraid to tackle problems. We do not merely talk about problems, we take action to change the lives of our customers as well as the society.
We are involved in various lobbying activities to ensure that families with children have a voice in society and that their distress is recognized in social debate and they are heard in the decision-making process.
We develop new methods to help families that are struggling with increasingly complex problems. The fruit of the work we have carried out in our homes since the 1940s is now evident in the new kind of mother-child activities we offer in institutions such as prisons and reception centres.
In a society where children live in increasing poverty and where there is a lack of care, the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters works for the benefit of children. Our aim is also to ensure that the spiral of social exclusion does not prevent any child from growing up into a good life and being allowed to express their own characteristics.
We are experts in the daily lives of families and changes taking place there. Our expertise is based on our close collaboration with our member associations that support families. We collect and publish information about circumstances of families in need, and we lobby the government and local councils to consider families in decision-making.
A total of 30 member associations across Finland provide professional help and voluntary support for families in need. The associations offer opportunities for people to be empowered by experiences of inclusion and equality.
The services our member associations offer are based on people’s real needs. Even if families contact our services because of a particular problem – substance abuse or violence in the family, or when daily life is a struggle – our activities are a window that displays views of the situation of the baby, teenager, mother, father and the entire network.
Through our services we support families in managing their daily lives and we strengthen the parent-child interaction. We help mothers and fathers to find their particular strengths as parents amidst the trouble. We try to advance cooperative parenting after the divorce, when it´s possible and safe for all family members. Good co-parenting between parent´s after the divorce is the best interest of the child, and it protects the child from the losses and negative effects of a divorce.
Our holistic approach ensures that families feel safe and protected. Our services allow time for rehabilitation, and the objectives are always decided on in collaboration with our customers.
Our associations rely on and reinforce people’s own resources. The holistic approach also reflects our equal respect for other services. We help our customers to find other necessary services in the network of welfare services.
Our member associations adhere to the agreed quality criteria, and the implementation is assessed by workers, customers and partners in collaboration.
The support and care offered by volunteers at the member associations of the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters complement professional services.
Our strength lies in the collaboration between professional workers and volunteers. Voluntary activities offer a meaningful way to help children and families in their daily lives. The Federation and its member associations provide volunteers with training and support. Those who have suffered hard times and survived have a lot to offer to those struggling with difficult situations. Those who have firsthand experience also play an important role when the Federation lobbies decision-makers in order to defend families with problems and guarantee that they receive the help they need.
There are many ways to be active in our associations, and these vary from one area to another. A voluntary worker can be a support person, handyman, leader of a hobby or peer group, or seller at a charity event. What is important is the willingness to help and make a connection to another person without prejudice.
Mother and child homes specialing in substance abuse treatment are for pregnant women and families with babies. Holding Tight Treatment System- combines child welfare services with drug rehabilitation programmes. These homes and related community care units offer support to 250 families with a new-born baby or expecting a baby every year.
The shelters offer 24/7 advice and support to victims of domestic violence. The shelters are short-term refuges in situations where staying at home would be impossible or dangerous because of violence, threat or fear. The shelters help more than 1,000 families every year, and community care services offer support to nearly 300 children and over 1,500 adults.
The safety of the victim and children is the most important aspect concerning the efforts to reduce domestic violence. Those engaged in violent behaviour are also offered help. Other professional community care services include the Baby blues and day group activities for families with babies, and Alvari family welfare services that help stressed families to cope in their daily lives.
In the services we offer to parents undergoing divorce, we emphasise the fact that a parent continues being a parent even after divorce. The child has the right to remain a child and to led a life that is in accordance with his or her age. The end of a relationship challenges the parents to create a new kind of relationship with one another. The Eroneuvo ( divorce advice) service is intended for parents who are considering or have already divorced. At Eroneuvo events you can receive information and peer support. In addition to a professional, voluntary peer support providers are always present. The Vanhemman neuvo (parent´s council) is a peer support group that helps parents with post-divorce parenting issues. In the group people can discuss the changes that have come along with the divorce and receive support on co-parenting.
Supervised and supported meetings are held to enable meetings between children and their non-resident parents. The supervisor at the meeting is a secure adult who looks after the best interests of the child during the meeting.
The mother and child homes are for families with babies that require individual and strong support in managing their everyday lives and the interaction between the baby and parents and in caring for their baby.
The problems families may have include mental problems or substance abuse. Parents may be very young or live in a culture that is new to them. The mother and child homes aim to enhance the relationship between the baby and parents and support parents in the process of becoming parents.
Over 200 families take their first steps as a family in our homes. The support continues through our community care services.
Online help: www.nettiturvakoti.fi
Online help: www.apuaeroon.fi – pages where you can find divorce services near you and get information
Training organised by the Federation of Mother and Child Homes provides professionals practical tools that help them offer support to parents and children.
Eroneuvo (divorce advice ) and Vanhemman neuvo (parent´s council) training courses are designed for social and healhcare sector professionals. The trainning sessions gives skills to initiate and run divorce advice and parent´s council groups. the Ero lapsiperheessä (divorce support for families) training is aimed at professionals who have direct contact families (like day care, schools and healtcare). The aims is to provide staff with the skills to deal with families affected by divorce. The training focuses on the child´s point of view and invites participants to consider how best to support parents. This training in one day long.
A Parent´s Guide – information and support for divorcing families with children is intended for those considering divorce, parents who are still processing their divorce, and their friends and relatives. Guide also provides you tips on where to find help and support for the family, parents and children.