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Social work comes to daycare centres – support for parents and staff

There are experts from many different fields working in the Wellbeing Services County of Ostrobothnia. You might think that no work is unique, but sometimes there is an exception. Pia Svarvar works as a social worker in Närpiö, but her job is not quite as ordinary as the title suggests.

– I work half the time at the daycare centre. My job is to act as a link between the family counselling centre, the daycare centre and the families. The staff can talk to me about any concerns they have about any of the children. We can then discuss any issues they have about a child with the parents, and I can tell them what kind of support is available, says Svarvar.

Visits by a social worker to a daycare centre allow contacts to be made at a low threshold and thus prevent the need to make a child protection order. The daycare staff usually have valuable information about the child, as many parents talk openly with the staff.

– The daycare staff are told, for example, whether the parents are separated, and the staff quickly notices if a child is lacking routines or there is domestic violence in the family. Openness between the staff and parents is a prerequisite for the child to receive the help and support needed, says Svarvar.

The daycare staff have been very satisfied with the arrangement. The social worker’s visits have provided them with support for discussions and help in dealing with the challenges a child might be facing in a timely manner.

Families receive help from many places

There are ten daycare centres in Närpiö, which Pia Svarvar visits regularly. She can help staff make a child protection order and support them by raising issues with parents. In addition, she shares information about other services that the children may need.

I work with many different professionals. My work is of a preventive nature. We want the families to feel well and get the help they need in time. We protect the daily lives of the children, Pia says.

Interprofessional cooperation is carried out, for example, with child welfare clinics, nursing care and speech and occupational therapists. The intention is that parents and daycare workers have a low threshold to cross when asking for help. Things don’t have to be bad to get support, we just want to intervene in time.

– Many parents are tired and want support to manage their daily lives. I discuss with them and together we go through things that affect the child, parenting, and daily life. I also tell the family about the services they can get. I also offer home visits if needed. Sometimes it’s enough that I just listen, says Svarvar.

Challenges should be addressed in time

Pia Svarvar is the only social worker in the welfare region who is registered as having this as a part of her working hours. The daycare centre is often the first place where concerns about a child emerge.

It usually all starts with a conversation between the parents, Svarvar and the daycare staff. It is preferable to take action at an early stage and it is also usually more cost-effective than resolving the problems at a later stage.

– I am a strong advocate of preventive work. The sooner you get help, the better. I hope that even more will be invested in this in the future, explains Svarvar.

This article is part of a series of online articles from the Wellbeing Services County of Ostrobothnia called From person to person, in which we take a deeper look at the everyday lives and services of our clients and professionals.