The City of Espoo has launched an action programme to reduce the poverty of families with children and to mitigate the related effects. The aim of the programme is to find common, cross-administrative solutions to prevent and narrow the gaps in health and well-being among Espoo residents. The programme includes measures from existing well-being plans and programmes. It also proposes new measures and indicators to address each problem area detected.
Even though the population of Espoo has, on average, a high level of well-being and is highly educated in comparison to other Finnish municipalities, urbanisation and growth do pose challenges such as loneliness, marginalisation and other social problems. When examining households that receive basic social assistance in the six biggest municipalities in Finland, the share of families with children was the highest in Espoo and Vantaa.
“We can tackle the poverty of families together. When we are aware of the root causes of the challenges families deal with, we can mitigate the risks and prevent the problems from piling up or getting worse”, says Mari Ahlström, Director of Family and Social Services.
All family members taken into consideration
The risk factors for poverty among families with children include the lack of vocational training, unemployment or incapacity for work, high living expenses and the insufficiency of primary benefits. Income problems are a risk factor for the well-being of both the parents and children. In the future, Espoo will increase its efforts to support the well-being of low-income parents. Families that receive basic social assistance will be offered the possibility to have their service needs assessed, always taking into consideration the well-being of the entire family. Complementary basic security systems that are offered to everyone are the most effective way to reduce childhood poverty and ensure children’s equality.
Growing up in a low-income family may put a child at risk of being bullied and limit their opportunities to take part in hobbies and other activities. The aim is to offer all children and young people recreational opportunities and find better ways to steer them towards hobbies, including those who currently have no hobbies. A meaningful hobby can give a child or a young person experiences of success and allow them to feel a sense of community.
In Espoo, the risk of exclusion from employment or education is over four times greater for young people who speak a foreign language than for Finnish- and Swedish-speaking young people.
“During different transition periods, it is important to pay some special attention to those young people who are, for example, at risk of not pursuing further education. We have addressed this issue, for example, through the Tulevaisuuskiihdyttämö (“Future Accelerator”) project that we launched together with Omnia, the Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo Region, for its adult students. The project provides a young immigrant with a personal coach who will strengthen their ties to the local services and society,” Ahlström says.
The action programme to reduce poverty among families with children 2019–2021 was launched as a result of the City Council’s initiative. The council will follow the implementation of the programme on an annual basis and assess whether the set goals reduce the poverty of families.
Action programme to reduce poverty among families with children 2019–21 (pdf, 1670 Kt)
Mari Ahlström, Director of Family and Social Services, tel. 043 825 6658
Eveliina Cammarano, Social Services Specialist, tel. 040 506 7817
Terhi Pippuri, Senior Planning Officer, Education and Cultural Services, tel. 043 827 2471