Leikkipuiston teline kuvattuna lähietäisyydeltä.

Audit Committee: Coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the situation in child welfare

The coronavirus pandemic has caused an increased need for child welfare services. In 2020, there were 18,023 child welfare notifications submitted in Helsinki, which is 840 more than in the previous year. The coronavirus pandemic and the restrictive measures have aggravated the problems among children, young people and families with a history of problems. Serious drug use, violence in close relationships and serious crimes have stood out among children and young people in institutional care since autumn 2020.

Child welfare reacted to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020 by adding personnel, but there have been problems in the availability of personnel in social work and institutional care in child welfare since autumn, which complicates the realisation of the services. Moreover, there is a shortage of places in special and demanding institutional care.

The Helsinki audit committee evaluated the sufficiency of the foster care in child welfare in its 2020 assessment report and gave a recommendation to the social and health care division according to which it must secure the availability of personnel in child welfare, and especially its social work and institutional care, in order to make sure that the tasks specified in the Child Welfare Act can be carried out. In its report, the audit committee also made a broader examination of the prevention of exclusion among children and young people. Comprehensive schools have achieved good results through the Mukana programme and the Me school development project. Ensuring the permanence of results achieved through project funding poses a challenge.

Inequalities in access to non-urgent care between different health stations

Access to non-urgent care at the city of Helsinki health stations is principally realised within the legislative time limits, but neither according to the city's own targets nor in an equal manner.

In 2017–2020, there have been substantial differences in the waiting times to non-urgent care between the different health stations. In 2019, the access to care declined significantly at all health stations. The main reason for the challenges at the health stations is the shortage of doctors. The doctor deficit may cause a negative spiral, when there is a deficit of doctors at a health station and the workload of the doctors increases. This gives the health station a bad reputation due to which doctors do not want to work there. When the health station is not able to hire more doctors, the workload remains at an unreasonable level. According to the audit committee’s recommendation, the social and health care division must improve the working conditions for doctors to make sure that the work load is deemed reasonable at all health stations, arrange sufficient training opportunities of doctors and ensure that the doctor salaries are at a competitive level compared to the surrounding municipalities.

Lessons to be learned from problems in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium renovation

The actual costs of the renovation and renewal project for the Helsinki Olympic Stadium were almost EUR 127 million more than what was anticipated in the project plan. The city of Helsinki and the Finnish government financed the project jointly. According to the recommendation by the audit committee, the city board must ensure in shared-cost projects that the project steering, supervision, as well as the competence and preparedness in carrying out projects, are agreed upon in detail before making the decision on the maximum price of the project.

According to the audit committee, the urban environment division must ensure in the future that the project plans for projects to be decided by the city council are sufficiently refined and of high quality, and that they have cost estimates that are as precise as possible.

Annual assessment report processed by the City Council on 23 June

The audit committee is an organ that reports to the city council and whose task it is to assess how the goals set by the city council have been fulfilled. Read more about the aforementioned topics and other topics discussed by the audit committee in the 2020 assessment report at: arviointikertomus.fi.

The City Council will process the assessment report at its meeting on 23 June 2021.

Read more:
2020 annual assessment report (in Finnish)
Audit committee
Audit department

Sufficiency of foster care in child welfare (article in Finnish)
Access to non-urgent care at Helsinki health stations (article in Finnish)
Renovation and renewal project for the Helsinki Olympic Stadium (article in Finnish)