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Integration and refugee reception are supported by means of different services 

Integration and refugee reception are supported by means of different services. The responsibility for producing the services falls especially on municipalities, wellbeing services counties and the Employment and Economic Development Services (TE Services). 

The municipalities have a general and coordinating responsibility for developing, planning and monitoring integration in their areas. In addition to the services referred to in the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant integration (Integration Act), integration and refugee reception are supported in the basic services provided by municipalities and the services of wellbeing services counties. 

The third sector also organises diverse activities to support integration. NGOs, including the organisations of immigrants themselves, play an important role in supplementing the authorities’ services and act as partners when services supporting integration are planned and implemented.

Services referred to in the Integration Act

Under the Integration Act, persons who move to live in Finland permanently must be given the basic information material, guidance and advice, an initial assessment, an integration plan and integration training. In addition, based on the information received in the initial assessment, other services supporting integration and, for example, language training may be linked to the integration plan.

Family group homes can also be considered a service related to the Integration Act. Under the Act, a wellbeing services county may establish a family group home or some other residential unit for children and young people. The wellbeing services county agrees with the municipality and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) on the establishment of the family group home or other residential unit, the placement of children and young people in these units, the provision of services promoting integration and the reimbursement for the costs incurred from the measures.

It is important to identify individual needs

To ensure smooth and efficient progress of integration, it is vital to recognise immigrants’ individual needs or, for example, the services needed by the family unit. The possible need for special services should be determined at an early stage.

Successful integration is assisted by mutually supportive, timely and smoothly progressing services that combine to form an appropriate whole. In the development of integration work, special attention has been paid to planning and creating the services promoting integration to form a flexibly progressing continuum of services.

Various pathway models have been put together for different target groups in a number of development projects. The starting point has been, for example, addressing the special needs of young people, jobseekers, vulnerable groups or older immigrants in the promotion of integration.

The early stage in immigration is important

In the early stage of immigration, the focus is on offering basic information about the Finnish society and the possibilities of accessing support for integration. Currently, the basic information material available is the Welcome to Finland guide. The authorities have the duty to provide advice about the services for which they are responsible and, if necessary, refer immigrants to other authorities’ services and to individual initial assessment services referred to in the Integration Act.

Guiding and advising immigrants and informing them of the services require flexible and developing work forms and efficient cooperation between the authorities. Accessible basic services, a high level of staff competence and identification of immigrants’ service needs are required in order to achieve a good standard in the work promoting integration. It is important to direct the services to all immigrants rather than targeting them only at certain groups (for example, refugees or returnees).

Read more:
Individual services promoting integration (only in Finnish)
Modelling of early-stage integration services 
Reception of refugees
Basic information material  
Guidance and advice 
Initial assessment 
Integration plan  
Integration training