Upper age limit for after-care provided to unaccompanied minors arriving in Finland to be raised
The Government proposes an amendment to the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration affecting young people who have entered Finland as unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. The Government pro-poses that they would be entitled to receive support equivalent to child welfare after-care until the age of 25. The amendment would concern young people who have been granted a residence permit.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration (1386/2010) includes provisions on services offered to unaccompanied minors who have been granted a residence permit. At present, young people may be entitled to receive after-care until they reach the age of 21. The rationale for amending the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration is that the equivalent age limit in child welfare after-care was raised to 25 years on 1 January 2020.
With the proposed amendment, the higher age limit would also apply to young people entering Finland in need of international protection. The amendment would put young people who are in similar situations but fall within the scope of different acts in an equal position. The legislative amendment would enter into force as soon as possible, but at the earliest once the fourth supplementary budget for 2020 has been adopted.
Municipalities are responsible for providing after-care services to unaccompanied minors. Under the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration, young people do not have a subjective right to after-care but municipalities provide the support as necessary. Central government reimburses municipalities for the cost of providing unaccompanied children and young people with accommodation and support. With the legislative amendment, municipalities would be reimbursed for the cost of providing these services until the young person reaches the age of 25.
Every year, a few hundred unaccompanied children apply for asylum in Finland. Most of the children have come to Finland from conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and most of them are between 16 and 17 years old. However, there are children of all ages among the arrivals. Due to the increased number of asylum seekers in 2015, it is estimated that there are currently around 2,000 such young people in Finland who would be entitled to after-care.
Anna Bruun, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8254
Paula Karjalainen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7117