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Shelters easier to access starting July

Access to mother and child shelters in Finland should become easier in July. The government will in future cover all costs, so municipalities will no longer be committed to pay for application fees. Customers may go straight to a shelter and ask for aid without jumping through bureaucratic hoops first.

Äiti katsoo lapsi sylissään ulos ikkunasta.
Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

A law committing the government to compensate groups that run mother and child homes and shelters was enacted in January. That law will begin to take tangible effect starting in July.

Marita Loukiainen of an NGO that runs a shelter in the west-coast town of Kokkola says she is happy with the change, and that she believes the new policy will help customers seeking aid.

"I hope the word gets out that there is no longer a payment commitment," she says. "People who have experienced domestic violence can be directed straight to a home, which they can either call or visit and not wonder who to contact and who will pay. There is always a place for people in dire need."

Up until now, the costs incurred by those accesses the services of mother and child homes and shelters have been paid by the municipalities. In some localities, clients of these shelters have had to pay a share themselves. The new law eliminates the need to make the round of various public offices, and the length of stays is not dependent on the health of the finances of local governments. Instead, the length of stays jointly decided by a social worker at the facility and the parent seeking help in crisis.

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