Finland’s excellent family benefits show why it ranks as #1 place in the world to be a parent.
Finland’s family benefits in a league of their own
The generous maternity care box offered by the Finnish government to expecting families was all over the news a couple of years back, but what is not so widely known are the impressive family benefits available to fathers as well as mothers. In fact, Finland offers family benefits that parents in most other countries can only dream of.
Family friendly Finland’s benefits in a league of their own
The generous maternity care box offered by the Finnish government to expecting families was big news a few years ago. Introduced in 1938, Finnish maternity packages are a time-honoured tradition in Finland. Initially, these boxes were only offered to low-income mothers — and then in 1949, the maternity packages were made available to all Finnish mothers.
As noted by the BBC and others, this unique maternity package contains children’s clothes and other necessary items, such as bedding, cloth diapers, towels, baby care books, breastfeeding guides and many other child-care products, all packaged nicely in a box with a mattress that doubles as a sleeping cot.
One can’t help be impressed by the idea of this maternity package. In fact, it’s probably one of the reasons Finland was ranked as the number one place in the world to be a mother. However, there’s much more to Finland’s success when it comes to family and child well-being than a simple maternity care box. In fact, Finland offers a range of family benefits that parents in other countries can only dream about.
More than generous benefits for families
Finland doesn’t just offer a fantastic hamper of free of baby accoutrements to families. Finland offers strong systems across the board when it comes to all areas of maternal and child health and well-being.
The maternity grant: As mentioned above, all expectant mothers and adoptive parents who live in Finland or who are covered by the Finnish social security system are entitled to receive the maternity grant, which is either the outstanding maternity package or a tax-free lump sum of 140 euros.
There are increased grants for parents of multiple birth babies. For example, if you’re having twins you are entitled to a total of three packages, or €420 and parents of triplets get six maternity packages or a combination of maternity packages and money.
Maternity leave: In Finland, women are allowed to start maternity leave 50 working days at the earliest and 30 working days at the latest before the estimated date of delivery. Women choose when to start maternity leave and the government pays a maternity allowance for 105 working days, or about 4 months. The maternity allowance, amazingly is offered to self-employed individuals, unemployed individuals and even students.
Paternity leave is encouraged: Paternity leave is offered for a maximum of 54 working days in Finland while laws in the United States barely cover and most certainly do not value paternity leave. There’s even a Finnish paternity allowance offered.
Parent leave pay: In the USA you’re extremely lucky if you receive decent maternity or paternity leave and paid leave is almost unheard of. In fact, the United States holds the distinction of being the one and only industrialised nation in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave for parents of newborns. After maternity leave in Finland, you can take parental leave and receive parental allowance. Fathers can also take parental leave or parents may share the leave.
Valuing all families: In Finland adoptive parents and one of the partners in “rainbow families” (families with same-sex parents) are eligible for maternity leave and allowance and paternity allowance.
The benefits are ongoing
The benefits don’t simply end in the baby years in Finland, either. Finnish mothers or fathers are allowed to stay at home to look after a child under 3 years of age and may receive a child home care allowance or the family may claim private day care allowance in order to work.
After a child turns three, parents may take partial care leave, meaning, you can work fewer hours per day or week in order to spend more time with your child — and though you can’t take partial care leave at the same time, both the father and the mother can take the partial care leave at a different times.
This innovative leave lasts until the end of the child’s second school year. What’s more, there is a child benefit payment for Finnish children under the age of 17 that’s paid monthly, and single parents get higher child benefits than other married parents.
On top of the basics, Finland offers special care and help for disabled children, sick children and, believe it or not, more!
But what is the point of all these benefits?
Being a parent is hard, even with the best benefits, but it’s clear that benefits make a huge difference. With benefits like the ones available in Finland, parents have a better opportunity to focus on being the best parents possible instead of worrying about supplies, maternity leave and how to afford to have a family.
Benefits like these show that the government values and appreciates families, and allows parents to feel cared for and supported early on, and support, in turn, helps build better parents and stronger families. If they put their minds to it, other governments could learn a great deal from how Finland values all families.
How to become a Finn in 22 easy steps
Ok, for once this imapct link isn't serious. In fact it's more of an in-joke for any Finns who happen to be reading the article. Finland is a breathtakingly beautiful country full of warm, charming and funny people, and I couldn't think of an appropriate impact link for an article like this, but for a moment there I suddenly wanted to be a Finn... so I looked up how, and here it is.