More support for asylum-seeker families and children in reception centres

2.9.2019 9.14
Press release

By now, 22 reception centres have already introduced the Let’s Talk about Children method, which helps support the everyday lives of children, families and young people.

The Let's Talk about Children method consists of discussion and consultation. A Let’s Talk about Children discussion with the parents or a young person is used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the child or young person and to draw up a plan to support their daily life. If necessary, a consultation is held that also includes, by invitation, people who can be of assistance to the family or young person.

Adoption of the method at reception centres has been implemented by the Finnish Immigration Service and MIELI Mental Health Finland, MIELI ry. The project has received EU funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

Asylum-seeker families and children may have special needs with regard to reception centre services. Difficulties experienced previously in life and a challenging life situation may affect the way the parents cope and manage their lives, and be reflected on children. Some minors who apply for asylum arrive in the country alone and often have difficult experiences in their background that place a burden on their well-being.

The goal is to introduce the method in all reception centres in 2020. Finland currently has 39 reception centres and six units for minor asylum seekers. Around 2,160 children and young people aged 0-17 years – more than one fifth of all clients – stay in reception centres.

Families and young people have positive experiences of discussions

Reception centres have positive experiences of the method.

"The Let's Talk about Children method is an excellent working method for use in a reception centre. First and foremost, it helps us pay more attention to children and obtain a better overall view of the family’s situation. The method increases understanding both between the family and the employee and within the family, and thus supports parenthood," says nurse Jenni Kokkonen from the Tampere reception centre.

Almost all the reception centre employees who responded to the assessment survey estimate that the parents had found the work to be a positive experience. The responses pertained to 45 families and seven young persons.

The unit for minor asylum seekers also has good experiences of use of the system.

"After a Let’s Talk about Children discussion, an action plan is drawn up for the young person according to his or her individual needs, for one month at a time. We can support a young person’s strengths and intervene in vulnerability factors by means of the action plan," says counsellor Marjo Sanchez from the Espoo unit for minor asylum seekers.

Reception centres have trained instructors of the Let's Talk about Children method. They also train other employees and serve as experts in reception centres.

FACTS: The Let's Talk about Children method

  • The Let’s Talk about Children method forms part of the Effective Child & Family methods that were developed by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in 2001. Currently, the work is coordinated, studied and developed by MIELI Mental Health Finland, MIELI ry (formerly known as the Finnish Association for Mental Health).
  • The method was developed by child psychiatrist, Professor Emerita Tytti Solantaus.
  • Studies have proven the method suitable for use in the Finnish health care system and effective also when a parent has a serious illness. The Let’s Talk about Children method is used in numerous services and development environments, such as in health care and social welfare services, early childhood education, and at schools.
  • Since 2017, a project between the Finnish Immigration Service and MIELI ry has evaluated and developed the method as appropriate for use in reception centres and among asylum seekers.
  • The discussion framework of the method is called a logbook. MIELI ry has developed the logbook for reception centres in co-operation with the Finnish Immigration Service.

Further information for the media

Virpi Valiola, Project Manager, tel. +358 (0)295 433 037, email [email protected]