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Corona crisis increases need for child protection services, survey finds

The THL and child welfare union say the crisis worsened already-present shortcomings within child protection services.

Kuvassa pikkupoika keinuu.
File photo of a child on a swing. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The coronavirus period has caused a worsening of psychological pressures on families with children and also increased the need for child protection services, according to a joint survey from Finland's health authority and a child welfare union.

Commissioned by the Institute for Health and Welfare THL and the Central Union for Child Welfare, the survey queried leaders within child protection services across 85 municipalities and 18 municipality federations.

Forty percent of respondents who took part said that the number of child protection clients had increased in their area overall while nearly half (47%) said that reports to child protection services increased during the coronavirus crisis.

Respondent answers suggested that the life situation of families with children within the child protection system became increasingly difficult during the epidemic, with 63 percent of respondents saying that families in their municipalities were having a more difficult time than before the crisis began more than a year ago.

Mental health problems up

The coronavirus period also saw an increase in mental health problems within families who were clients of the family services. More than half of the child protection service officials (55%) said that parents suffered more mental illness than previously.

In the majority of municipalities (70%), child protection services estimated that the stamina of parents had deteriorated and that school problems among their children had become more common during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the survey found that access to both social and health care services had decreased.

The THL and the child welfare union noted that there were already shortcomings within child protection services before the crisis even began and that it was clear the epidemic further worsened the situation.

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