Support families


The support families provided by Save the Children have made the lives of many children and families easier in situations where the parents have felt their physical or emotional state weakening. Some of the most common reasons for applying for a support family include single parenthood, the parent’s need for some time of their own, the lack of social relationships supporting the family, and a difficult and straining situation in life. The lack of help and support from another parent is often emphasised in single parenthood.

The parents of children who have been assigned a support family appreciate that they have a safe place where they can take the child and have some time for themselves. They feel it is important that weekends with the support family provide the child with different experiences and new, important relationships.

Support family services are a part of child protection

  • The children usually spend weekends, 1–2 nights at a time about once a month, in the support family but otherwise live in their own home. Many children also spend some holidays in their support families.
  • According to our experiences, support family services are capable of effectively responding to families’ early needs for support. Support families are ordinary, volunteering adults who have the time, space, and willingness to take care of a child. The most important trait of support family volunteers is the sensitivity and skill to recognise the needs of the child even in challenging situations.
  • The support family services ensure the child’s right to have a childhood, to play and to be looked after, and provide parents support in their own parenthood.
  • Support family services are available for all families with children and they are operated under the Social Welfare Act as preventive child protection work and also implemented as a support function for open child welfare services.
  • Our support families see approximately one thousand children every year. Most of the children are between the ages 3 and 12. We have also been developing support family services for small children over the age of 1.

“When I leave, I hope we can go back very soon.”

“I miss and think about my support family.”

Children’s feedback on the support family services shows that weekends with normal everyday activities are a source of great joy for most children and a welcome diversion from everyday life at home. The children also find playing with friends, outdoor activities, and spending time together the best part of their support family weekends.

“It’s nice to visit the support family, but on Sunday evenings I’m usually tired after such a
different weekend.”

“I play with Legos and the dad of the support family has been playing with me.”

“To play football outside”

“When we get to make food and bake.”

Become a support family – volunteer work is rewarding

Apply for a support family for a child (in Finnish)