Government proposes major support package to alleviate coronavirus harm in children and young adults
The Government’s third supplementary budget proposal for 2021 includes an appropriation totalling EUR 111 million to alleviate the adverse impacts of the coronavirus on children and young adults.
Additional funding to bridge the learning gap
An investment of EUR 65 million will bridge the learning gap caused by the coronavirus crisis in early and pre-school education, basic education, senior high schools and vocational institutes. This funding will enable such measures as correcting the learning deficit caused by the coronavirus crisis through teaching that accommodates the individual circumstances of the child or young adult and, for example, includes an outreach to students who have remained out of reach during the crisis.
“Coronavirus has damaged the learning opportunities and welfare of children and young adults in a tangible and measurable way. We will do everything in our power to ensure that the crisis does not cast a lasting shadow over the lives of children and young adults in Finland. This is how a welfare state functions. Rectifying the learning deficit is not only essential, but also a profitable investment,” explains Minister of Education Jussi Saramo.
Appropriations are proposed amounting to EUR 40 million for pre-primary, basic and early childhood education, EUR 15 million for senior high school education and EUR 5 million for liberal adult education and vocational training. A further EUR 4 million is proposed for university funding. This funding seeks to offset the impacts of coronavirus, such a growing learning gap and deterioration in student welfare.
“The prolonged distance teaching time of the coronavirus lockdown period is reflected in the learning and welfare of university students. Too many students have been left to their own devices. We shall continue the wellbeing projects launched at every university and polytechnic in Finland. Our goal is to reach every student in need of support,” says Antti Kurvinen, Minister of Science and Culture.
Investment in family recovery and preventative measures
The coronavirus epidemic has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of children, young adults and families with children, and on delivery of their services. The need for support has increased. Family lifestyles have deteriorated and stress, loneliness and mental health problems have increased. Substance abuse problems are also on the rise. Though total alcohol consumption fell in 2020 due to reduced passenger importing, consumption by high-risk users has grown during the epidemic. This contributes to higher demand for services. Appropriations in the supplementary budget proposal of EUR 23 million to improve access to substance abuse services and EUR 16 million to improve mental health services seek to respond to the growing need for services.
“The supplementary budget investments in improving the availability of substance abuse and mental health services will help to ensure that the repercussions of coronavirus do not become permanent,” explains Krista Kiuru, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services.
A general appropriation of EUR 3 million is also proposed for preventative policing.
“Particularly children and young adults who are already in difficult circumstances have had to bear a heavy burden due to the consequences of coronavirus restrictions. Preventing maladjustment of young adults is a very important aspect of police work. Ensuring encounters with secure adults when the need arises is especially important in these exceptional times. I am delighted that we shall be able to allocate more funding to preventative policing,” says Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior.
Support for young adults in employment, education and health challenges
The coronavirus crisis substantially increased youth unemployment. The need of young adults for psychosocial support also increased, with services reaching fewer young adults, particularly those in challenging circumstances.
“Even though youth unemployment has begun to fall, it remains very high. A mere recovery of the labour market and lifting of restrictions will not be enough to eliminate youth unemployment if the problems are allowed to pile up. We must attend to the wellbeing and skills of young adults right now. This is where the Ohjaamo One-Stop Guidance Centres are crucial,” explains Tuula Haatainen, Minister of Employment.
The Government has strengthened Ohjaamo operations throughout its term of office. Young adults enjoy Ohjaamo support when facing challenges in such areas as employment, education and health. The Government decided an incentive model at its autumn 2020 budget session encouraging municipalities to strengthen Ohjaamo expertise in social affairs, health and education. A total of EUR 13 million in funding has been set aside for 2021–2024. The supplementary budget allocated funds for technical implementation of the incentive model.
Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430 (questions for the Minister of Employment)
Questions for Minister Kiuru, Special Adviser Timo Lehtinen, tel. +358 295 163 387
Questions for Minister Saramo, Special Adviser Touko Sipilä, tel. +358 295 330 143
Questions for Minister Kurvinen, Special Adviser Markus Ylimaa, tel. +358 50 374 8192
Questions for Minister Ohisalo, Special Adviser Milja Henttonen, tel. +358 50 599 3094
Questions for Minister Haatainen, Special Adviser Timo Nevaranta, tel. +358 50 574 1430