The number of child protection notifications has increased in the largest cities, but the impact of the epidemic may only be seen in the distant future, estimates Elina Pekkarinen, the Ombudsman for Children.
Corona epidemic child protection and other services for families with children will be delayed, the Elina Pekkarinen.
The effects of the exception period on children and families will also vary greatly from region to region.
Specialist of the Sote unit of the Association of Finnish Municipalities Aila Puustinen-Korhonen says services were severely shut down in the worst areas of the epidemic, while in some areas the epidemic was not particularly visible in child protection.
“The effects follow the course of the pandemic. In Uusimaa, the effects on operations were more serious than in the north. ”
In spring In a survey commissioned by the Finnish Federation for Child Welfare and the National Institute for Health and Welfare 47 percent of municipalities estimates that the number of child protection notifications has increased during the corona epidemic.
Now the situation has leveled off and there is no acute emergency, Puustinen-Korhonen states. Pekkarinen, the Ombudsman for Children, also says that no very radical change has taken place.
“Custody or urgent investments have not increased over the past year. Problems may become apparent in the future as the child grows and begins to show symptoms or when there will be transitions in life. ”
Already however, some of the problems posed by the derogation are clear. According to Pekkarinen, nausea among young people has increased particularly rapidly and the situation was significantly aggravated by distance education.
“The group of teenagers has grown [lastensuojelussa] most strongly. ”
Puustinen-Korhonen of the Association of Finnish Municipalities also confirms that currently the need for support for young people, schoolchildren and students is especially emphasized in child protection.
“Young people aged 13–17 who have stayed at home in the Korona period are highlighted. School attendance was dropped, the internet, social media and Pelimaailma attracted me. ”
Social Director Arja Heikkinen says that children ‘s mental health problems in Oulu have led to more and more child protection notifications. In 2021, their number was more than double that of last year: 257 cases.
“The proportion of young people with poor health is growing.”
Young in addition to nausea, there appears to be an increasing frequency of domestic violence underlying child protection reports during the epidemic.
Announcements made by emergency centers in Helsinki increased by 35 per cent from the beginning of the year compared to the same period in 2020, says the city’s head of child welfare social work Jonna Vanhanen.
“Announcements made by emergency centers are related to a parent’s mental dilemma or domestic violence. Or that the child is behaving aggressively at home. ”
In Tampere, child protection also shows the impact of mental health problems on both young people and adults, as well as domestic violence, says the service director for services for children, young people and families. Maria Päivänen.
“Domestic violence cases have increased behind the reports. The share of parental reasons in child protection declarations and family conflicts has strengthened. ”
Child protection According to Puustinen-Korhonen, the situation has been alleviated by the fact that social and health services for children and families have recently been able to function better than in the worst stages of the epidemic.
“At the time, I didn’t even get access to acute psychiatric treatment. Many things have returned closer to normal. ”
Still, problems elsewhere in health care, such as counseling centers and especially youth mental health services, are likely to be reflected in the need for child protection in the future, says Turku’s director of child protection. Eira Virolainen.
“The situation in primary care is really bad. It’s reflected in remedial services, ”he says.
“There were very difficult customers in the family support centers in the spring. Substance use has increased among young people and is reflected in violence and hard work. The mental ill health of young people has also increased. It has been difficult to get treatment. ”
According to Virolainen, the coping of families has been a test for a long time, when the children were in a distance school and the situations of the families could be difficult.
In particular, the number of out-of-school children has increased: the number of students whose absence has been a major concern doubled from autumn 2020 to spring 2021, Virolainen says.
Association of Municipalities Puustinen-Korhonen points out that, for example, families completely excluded from safety nets may not yet appear in the statistics.
Service debt has also arisen during the corona epidemic from situations where it became easier or unintentional to avoid child protection. According to Puustinen-Korhonen, the situation of these families and children will continue to be dismantled well into next year.
It is also difficult to get an overall picture of the situation of children and families because national statistics are lagging months behind. According to Pekkarinen, it causes problems in child protection planning.
“Municipalities are not able to react to problems fast enough.”