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253 New legislation in finland – state funding for shelters for victims of domestic violence
  1. Helena Ewalds
  1. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland


Background (issue/problem) The roots of the shelter movement in Finland are strongly connected to child protection. Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters opened the first Shelters in 1979. The service was primarily targeted for women with children.

Description of the problem Earlier it was up to the municipality if they had money to send a victim of domestic violence to a shelter or not. It was not an obligation for the municipality because we had no legislation on shelter services. Many of the shelters had financial problems to run the services. Because the services were targeted for women with children the entry of single women into shelters was not possible or was complicated.

Results (effects/changes) In 2014 the Government decided that the responsibility for the shelter services belongs with the state instead of the municipalities. The Act on reimbursement out of State funds for providers of shelters for victims of domestic violence (1354/2014) took effect on 1 January 2015. The responsibility for financing the services provided in the shelters rests with the State. Most of the service providers are still NGOs. Now the shelters for victims of domestic violence are open for anyone – women, men and children of all ages – who has experienced acts or threatened acts of domestic violence. The shelters are open 24/7, free of charge and one doesn’t need a referral. The National Institution of Health and Welfare is responsible for the national co-ordination and development of the shelter services. There are already common national quality standards drawn up together with national and local agencies and NGOs. The aim of the quality standards is to improve the quality of shelters and give uniform norms for granting a shelter license. In Finland we think this legislation is a great step forward for the State to take responsibility to help victims of domestic violence. This improvement was made thanks to the Istanbul Convention.

  • Shelters for victims of domestic violence
  • state funded
  • national quality standards

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