A good childhood is a profitable investment

Finnish cities take first steps to becoming child-friendly

On October 24, Eurochild National Partner Network in Finland, the Central Union for Child Welfare and the National Audit Office organized a "Childhood price tag" seminar. During the seminar almost 80 participants discussed the importance of investing in childhood and the consequences of overlooking child impact assessment.

At this very moment the discussion concerning investing in children and young people is intense and active in Finland. Discussions are taking place at national, regional and local levels and is part of the ongoing national child and family services reform. One of the goals of the reform is to enhance child and family orientated perspective into the strategic guidelines of each region. During the seminar the Child-Friendly Region -pilot project was presented. The project works with child friendly municipality guidelines, which are to be implemented in all regions in the future.   

Some of municipalities have already taken the first steps towards a child-friendly municipality programme. As an example, the city of Helsinki has decided to find out what is the actual impact of the targeted funds on children and with regular monitoring, improve the effectiveness of the funding. In addition, the City Board will include a call for action on the child impact assessment for all sectors in the 2018 budget preparation guidelines. The city of Hämeenlinna has gained good experiences from its budget work sessions, which is a joint opportunity for residents, officials and decision-makers to enroll more deeply into the matter, and where also children and young people were invited to participate. The aim was to create a common understanding of the current welfare situation in the municipality and the allocation of funds, as well as to monitor the achievement of the objectives. 

A Social Impact Bond for children’s well-being

New types of instruments have also been developed. Sitra has set up a performance-based financing contract model for children and young people called SIB (Social Impact Bond), in which the role of Central Union for Child welfare is to actively search for and to evaluate new ways to invest in the well-being of children and young people. In this particular model, the public sector buys social services from the service provider, with the support of a private investor. Another interesting presentation was made by Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild on the Childonomics project. This model also provides an interesting framework within the Finnish discussion and therefore we will be delighted to hear about more results! 

The Central Union for Child welfare will continue to address these questions by gathering information on child budgeting tools and by compiling the needs of municipalities and other key actors regarding this matter.