Specialist child protection and adoption services

Specialist child protection and adoption services

Save the Children’s social workers are specialised in child protection, family care and adoption issues. They are skilled at evaluating and supporting families in demanding situations on both short and long-term bases. The social workers at our regional offices carry out a variety of tasks concerning child placement situations and foster care. This includes providing support and guidance for foster parents, work counselling for professionals and families, consulting and client-specific assessments concerning child protection cases (including a written summary, recommendation or opinion). Assessments are carried out in pairs. Save the Children’s social workers may also work as partners of municipal social workers in various child protection situations.

The social workers have undergone specialised training, including in family therapy and interaction assessment and support. In certain consultative tasks, social workers may be assisted by a consultations support group comprising various specialists in such fields as child psychiatry, different fields of child protection, family therapy, substance abuse care, work counselling and legal issues. Video conferencing facilities may also be used in performing client services.


  • Parental support and guidance
  • Family therapeutic support for families
  • Support and guidance via video conferencing
  • Reinforcing interaction in child-parent (including in foster and adoptive families) relationships, e.g. using the Marschak Interaction method (MIM)
  • Structured interaction support model for children and families (six sessions)

Parental support and guidance

We provide work counselling and support for a variety of forms of parenting –foster and adoptive parents, professional family carers or children’s birth parents. Support needs may, for instance, involve children, couples, foster parenting or cooperation with a child’s parents or with professionals.

Family therapeutic support for families

Family therapeutic support is systematic and where necessary replicates family goal-oriented guidance and advice based family therapist skills for supporting parenthood. Meetings are used to gain an understanding of, and to reinforce, the family’s internal interaction and to meet all members of the family, either all together or individually.

Reinforcing interaction in the parent-child relationship

Supporting emotional attachments has been shown to have an important preventive and remedial effect on children’s mental health. The study and support of child-parent interaction can have a decisive impact on children’s development. This work can be done with foster and adoptive families or with children’s birth parents, using procedures such as the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM). Observation carried out using MIM uses video in studying the range of child-parent relations.

Structured interaction support model for children and families

Support oriented to the initial stage of adoption or family placement aims at reinforcing a positive interaction between child and parent or foster parent. The point is to support parenthood and to help children to be listened to and understood within their own families. This work involves discussions, activities, videoing child-parent interactional situations and joint observation. The activity involves six meetings and lasts about eight months for each family.


  • Work counselling or video work counselling
  • Consultations or video consultations and/or working in pairs
  • Family therapeutic consultation for professionals
  • Consultation by email or phone

Work counselling

Work counselling is the supervision and analysis of issues, experiences and feelings concerning your own work with the assistance of a qualified work counsellor. Work counselling also aims to promote coping at work. Work counselling is also possible using video conferencing.

Consultations and/or working in pairs

Social workers can provide support for consultations or act as working partners of municipal employees in various child protection situations, such as in investigating the need for child protection or in different open care situations. They also provide support in foster care situations and in evaluating them (taking children into care or revoking such decisions, client plans, different foster care situations or custody disputes). Support is also available in matters concerning family care an adoption. Consultations can be arranged either as meetings or by video conferencing.

Family therapeutic consultation for professionals

Family therapeutic consultations can benefit professionals wanting a professional family therapist’s opinion to increase their understanding of families’ situations, needs and family dynamics.


Examples of different types of assessment:

  • Assessment of a child’s life situation
  • Support needs assessment
  • Parental assessment
  • Assessment of a situation concerning taking into care or fostering
  • Assessment or orientation concerning placement within relatives network or parenting by a relative.

Client-specific case assessments concerning different child protection situations (including a written summary, recommendation or opinion) can be obtained from the Regional Offices. Social workers carry out assessments in pairs. Save the Children’s social workers may also act as a consultant partner for a municipal social worker in performing various assessments. The work is based on special training qualification, as well as standard working methods on child protection in use, such as the Programme for Rapid Independent Diagnostic Evaluation (PRIDE) method, the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), family therapy skills and various other child-oriented evaluation and reporting models.


We arrange parental peer support groups in different areas for parents of children in foster care or who are taken into care and we can provide support for children’s parents through individual meetings. We have arranged online discussion opportunities and peer group gatherings for the birth parents of adopted children. You can find out more about this and other forms of activity from social workers at the Regional Offices.


Some of our regional offices are skilled in the use of Family Group Conferencing (FGC) and convening FGCs. FGC is a solution-oriented working method that aims to build effective collaboration between children or young people and their families and relatives as well as authorities dealing with family matters. In cooperation with families, relatives and social workers, FGC draws up a plan to safeguard the welfare of children and young people. FGC is started up on the initiative of social workers.


The regional offices and the central office of Save the Children arrange training courses for professionals on listening to children, legal affairs, and other child protection and adoption-related matters. The regional offices also arrange training and follow-up training for support, foster and adoptive families. Training is tailored with the client according to the target group and preferences. The contact persons for this work are the managers of the regional offices, and at the central office the heads of development – Kaisa Tervonen-Arnkil, Paula Marjomaa and  Kaarina Pasanen – and head of operations for children’s homes, Anu Lehto.


Social workers providing specialist services at our regional offices have the opportunity to use Save the Children’s child protection consultation support group. The support group comprises our experts, who have extensive specialist knowledge of child protection, child psychiatry, family therapy, law, work counselling, substance abuse treatment and care, etc. At any given time, there may be requests for help from the support group’s most competent experts. When working together, social workers and the support group are able to use such aids as video conferencing.

  • Ulla-Maija Aro, specialist child and youth social worker , VHI, psychotherapist, PRIDE trainer
  • Maria Haarajoki, lawyer, LL.M.
  • Anu Huovinen, Regional Director, social worker, M.Ed., psychotherapist, Theraplay and DDP training
  • Riitta Hyytinen, director of child welfare services, child and youth social work specialist social worker, VTL, supervisor
  • Anne Karppinen, Regional Director, social worker, MSc, supervisor, PRIDE trainer
  • Kirsi Kettunen, Regional Director, youth psychiatrist, psychotherapist
  • Paula Marjomaa, Head of Development, specialist child and youth social worker, VHI, PRIDE trainer
  • Kristiina Mattinen, Regional Director, social worker, CSM, family psychotherapist, PRIDE trainer
  • Kaarina Pasanen, Head of Development, social worker, family psychotherapist, PRIDE trainer
  • Kaisa Tervonen-Arnkil, Head of Development, psychologist, psychotherapist, supervisor
  • Rita Smith, Regional Director, social worker, work counsellor STO ry, work wellbeing coach