The current situation due to the coronavirus epidemic has caused challenges in the daily life of many families. The day-to-day life of families with special needs children may have become particularly demanding. The City of Helsinki wishes to remind that families are not left alone and there’s a wide range of support offered even during the exceptional circumstances.
For those concerned over the family’s coping or the children’s remote schooling, there’s help available both within the schools’ services and the social services. Children with special needs may still attend classroom teaching. If the child is experiencing challenges with learning or school, the parent should contact the school to agree for sufficient measures and support during distance learning. For young people and adults, there’s support available at the student health services and the social welfare guidance services.
Support for children in daycare and schools
The telephone service for questions related to education and schooling is available in Finnish and in English at 09 310 10025 on weekdays 9-18. The service is meant to answer questions related to the education of students and pupils in Helsinki. Service in Swedish is available at 09 310 10027 during the same hours.
The psychologists and curators of the pre-primary and comprehensive education support pupils and their guardians in questions related to education. The curator may promote the pupils’ wellbeing and positive overall development and support the education in cooperation with other members of the school’s personnel even at times of distance learning. Cooperation with the parents is an essential part of the curator’s work and the possible solutions to ease the pupil’s situation are discussed together.
The psychologist offers guidance and consulting, for instance, with problems linked to emotional life, fears, crises and relationships and interaction. Distance learning is not immune to problems related to learning arrangements and difficulties, attention and working. The goal is to increase the parents’, child’s and teachers’ understanding, knowledge and general impression of the situation and thus help plan supportive measures.
The curators and the psychologists can be reached over telephone, by email or in Wilma. The contact details can be found on the website of the school (https://www.hel.fi/peruskoulut/fi/koulut/) or the daycare centre (https://www.hel.fi/varhaiskasvatus/fi/paivakodit/). The possibility for individual meetings is secured whenever possible at all situations and meetings may be held with a remote access.
Support for students in secondary education
The psychologists and curators of secondary education student welfare services support students in questions related to learning and wellbeing. The curator or the psychologist can be contacted over telephone or by email. The contact details can be found on the webpage of each institution or on http://www.toisenasteenyhteys.fi/fi/ (in Finnish).
If the curator or psychologist of your own school is not available, you may turn to the staff of any other upper secondary school or the Stadin Ammattiopisto. According to the situation, the student welfare services arrange for individual meetings with the students in the school premises or another suitable location, or at a distance with a secure connection.
Student health services help young people
The student health services are available also during the exceptional circumstances at all schools. The nurse can best be reached over telephone or through e-services. Moreover, a contact request can be submitted in Wilma or by email. The student health services offer support in e.g. acute infectious diseases, mental health issues and birth control and contraception also to those young people who are not currently studying or working.
The student health services’ centralised service point is located at Mechelininkatu 46 A, 4th floor. Please ring before arriving at 050 310 5547.
Support and help for families
Families with children and young people can get help from the Family Centres https://www.hel.fi/sote/units-en/family-centres/ in Helsinki. Family Centres offer low-threshold services to families in need of a sympathetic ear, helpful information or practical assistance in e.g. problems with upbringing, challenges in parenting or difficulties with everyday life. You can ring the families’ social assistance number at 09 3101 5454 on weekdays 9-12.
The Need help -icon is an easy and quick way to ask for help. It is en electronic channel for making contact and can be used 24/7. The concern might be personal or regard the whole family and it may be related to difficulties in everyday life or problems with education and upbringing. The service is intended for families with children in Helsinki who are experiencing a difficult situation in life or problems with upbringing. Every contact will be responded by a social welfare professional within three working days. The Need help -icon is located in the lower right corner of the website https://www.hel.fi/sote/perheentuki-en.
With issues related to child welfare or if there’s an acute need for support, you can contact your local duty child welfare social worker on weekdays 8.15-16 or the social and crisis duty ( https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/en/socia-health/health/emergency/social-crisis-emergency-services/) outside office hours.
Young people are met on social media and on the streets
Youth work is taking place in social media channels and outside with the outreach youth work. Young people can chat at the SekasinChat (https://sekasin247.fi/#sekasin-2) in Finnish and the Ärligt talat chat (https://arligttalat.fi/) in Swedish. Users of local youth centres are being offered help and activities on social media. The main channels are Instagram, Whatsapp, SnapChat and Discord, but others are used, too. For instance, dance lessons have been organised with the popular TikTok app. Local youth centres are listed at http://munstadi.fi/en/.
Chat support for young people, adults and the maternity and child health clinics’ customers
The chat services are provided mainly in Finnish.
Health care and social welfare experts serve 16-29 year-old residents of Helsinki on the Young people’s Helsinki chat service. The chat also serves residents from other municipalities who study in Helsinki and have the right to use the student health care. The chat is open on weekdays 12-16. Chat at: www.hel.fi/nuoret The chat is only available in Finnish for the time being.
The student welfare services support the pupils and their guardians also online; the chat is open on weekdays 10-16 on www.jelppii.fi (in Finnish).
The NeRo robot answers the maternity and child health clinics’ customers’ questions 24/7. A nurse is available on the maternity and child health clinics’ chat service on weekdays 10-14. The chat offers the possibility for anonymous discussion with a nurse and if need be, the nurse may ask for the customer to identify themselves, which enables a more personal service. The chat and NeRo robot can be found on https://www.hel.fi/sote/perheentuki-en
The adult social work social guidance serves over telephone (09 310 44400) and on the chat (https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/en/socia-health/socia-support/information) on weekdays 9-16.
Psychologists’ telephone service for families at the outpatient clinic for the intellectually disabled
The telephone service is available at 040 1953054 on weekdays 9-11. The psychologists’ telephone service for families at the outpatient clinic for the intellectually disabled during the Covid-19 pandemic is meant for families in special care. Together with the psychologists, it is possible to discuss the situation in the family and think of ways to support the coping of the family.
Short-term, hourly service for families of the disabled
The Activity Centre Tanhua offers short-term, hourly service for young people and adults for 2-3 hours per week. The service includes transport but no meals. You can ask for more information on the service from your own social worker. The service is also available at home for helping out with e.g. childcare, the parent’s grocery shopping or outdoor activities. You can ask for more information on the service from your own social worker.
Virtual daytime activities for the disabled
The Services for the Disabled of the City of Helsinki offer virtual daytime activities. The activities are free and open to all, but they are especially aimed at the customers of the services for the disabled. The group activities offer information, social contacts and inclusive activities at home. To take part in the activities, you need a computer, a tablet or a smartphone and an internet connection. The virtual daytime activity instructors assist the customers, their loved ones and the group home’s personnel in all required technical issues.
The virtual daytime activity groups take place on weekdays 9.30-11 and 12.30-14. In the groups, there’s discussions, dancing and games. To participate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 050 3968 233.
Photo: Marja Väänänen.