The municipal integration programme is one of the programmes and plans that must be based on a municipal strategy. In addition to the municipal strategy approved by the local council, a municipality needs several intersectoral implementation programmes for the strategy. They are derived from the municipal strategy and their purpose is to support and implement common objectives.
Some regions have created regional immigration strategies or strategies to place refugees in municipalities. In some regions, regional strategic programmes may include themes related to promotion of integration. These regional programmes should be taken into account in the local integration programme.
Integration programme reflects national themes
The municipal integration programme should reflect the national themes of the Government Integration Programme (VALKO). VALKO is produced for each government term, and its purpose is to advance the themes of the Government Programme related to integration. The Government Report to Parliament on Needs to Reform the Promotion of Integration replaced VALKO during the government term 2019–2023.
At the municipal level, a good integration programme promotes themes deemed important in the municipal strategy, regional strategy and VALKO.
The integration programme serves as a tool for those involved in promoting integration in municipalities. The integration programme sets local objectives for the promotion of integration and the means to achieve them. When you read the municipal integration programme, you should get an idea of how the municipality works to promote integration in different sectors and how the services provided by educational institutions, organisations and companies are involved in this activity.
The integration programme is based on the municipality’s operating environment and its changes: What kind of immigrants live in the municipality? Which age groups and nationalities are mostly represented in the municipality? How are the relations between population groups and how receptive is the municipality? How should we prepare for the future?
Internationalisation, different immigrant groups residing in municipalities and successful integration support require cooperation between different municipal sectors and other municipal operators, such as organisations, companies, educational institutions and employment services, as well as careful planning of cooperation. The integration programme can be a roadmap to successful promotion of integration in the municipality.
Planning and updating support available from other municipalities’ integration programmes
Some municipal integration programmes have been published at kotoutuminen.fi. Approximately 2/3 of Finland’s municipalities have a valid municipal or sub-regional integration programme or they are currently preparing one. Many municipalities are either preparing their first integration programme or updating their programme now, because many beneficiaries of temporary protection fleeing the war in Ukraine will remain in municipalities. A valid municipal integration programme is a condition for receiving compensation for beneficiaries of international or temporary protection.
Tips on preparing a programme can be obtained from the integration programmes of other municipalities. However, it is important to remember that the situations and needs vary between municipalities. That is why an integration programme should not be copied from another municipality.
It is important to focus on the process of preparing a programme, engage different operators in the cooperation and ensure commitment of municipal decision-makers to the objectives of promoting integration.
The website also publishes a checklist to support the preparation of a municipal integration programme.