The exchange week can be described as a pressure-cooker in which participants collect and consume information, energy, understanding, inspiration and network together. In addition to the substansive knowlegde, the exchange has proven to be useful because of the high degree of reflection on your own methodologies and choices made in your country or organisation.
The purpose of the exchange between Finland and the Netherlands was to compare the system we have set up in the Netherlands to the Finnish system. Interestingly, the Finns are preparing a system of centralization (2019). In the Netherlands we just decentralized the responsibility for the organization of the system to the municipalities.
Food for thought during and after the exchange ...
The role and responsibility of the Social Worker
In the first few days, it became clear that the role and responsibility of the Social Worker is many times bigger than the role of those in the Netherlands. The Social Worker in Finland is both caregiver and decisionmaker.
For example, the Social Worker may intervene without the intervention of the court in the family and a child, e.g. outhome placements. For this reason, the Social Worker in Finland must have an university grade. The Finns accept from their culture such interventions of the professional. Supervision can be organized through administrative law. However, this is a time-consuming process, which may discourage such a step.
Looking at the Dutch situation, you could say that the Social Worker could get the same position through SKJ certification and the related disciplinary law. In practice, however, we see that the responsibility/independency that the Social Worker receives within the system is limited. The question is how this could be changed in the Netherlands?
When in Finland children are placed in a foster family, the social worker (regardless of whether a child ever returns) is responsible for organising support to the biological parents accordingly. This is always voluntary. Foster parents and residential care workers cooperate with parents. The goal is that parents learn to deal with the situation.
In the Netherlands this is not automaticly the case.
In Finland there is no "juvenile prison system". There is thus no such thing as juvenile justice. Children can simply be punished within the "ordinary" criminal law. The result of this is that there are only 8 youth in Finland in prison. But there are, like the Netherlands, youth detentions in Finland.
Funding of the system
The financing of the system in Finland has always been a responsibility of the individual municipalities. Generated taxes were used to to fund the system. An interesting difference with the Netherlands is that health care is also a responsibility of the individual municipalities. The new Finnish system is sending new political entities (counties). These look similar to our provinces. These 18 counties will be responsible for the total Social Domain. The central government will cover the funding of social and health care services. The intention is to enter this system by 2019. However, due to new elections this could be uncertain.
Reason for the system change is the big differences between the different municipalities. One municipality has a complete package of care, while the other might have to buy it from a larger municipality.
A big difference with the reform of the system, compared to the Netherlands, is that there is no cutback in the funding. Another difference is that in Finland they take much more time for the reform. The curbing of the increase of costs is the aim, reducing the costs by 3 billion by the end of 2029.
Another big difference is that in Finland there is private funding in the Social Impact Bonds (SIB). These institutions have an aim to generate profit. The SIB model has just recently been introduced and involves only few initiatives. The services are produced by public funding. The discussion on Friday afternoon showed that research has shown that the effectiveness of care provided by institutions that make profit is no less than that of taxfunded institutions. The way in which private money could be deployed in our Dutch system is an interesting question that you could see as a return of exchange.
Normal life as a starting point for support
Like in the Netherlands, the focus of the Finns (policy) is on prevention. And, like in the Netherlands, they do not seem to really succeed in it. Perhaps it would be interesting to continue exploring this theme together.
Training Social Work - youth care worker
The social workers in Finland have a university degree. University education includes many practical periods. However, when they complete their study real experience starts when they actually start to work. Looking at the developments within FICE International in Scotland and Australia combined with our needs for quality this could be interesting to explore more intensively.
During diner time, interaction and exchange continues...
The Finnish group