When an unaccompanied minor or young person seeking asylum is separated from their family, relatives or other network, they will need a wide range of support in their new country of residence. In order for a child or young person living in a family group home to access services, close cooperation between the family group home, the municipality's social welfare and health services, educational services and, if necessary, child welfare authorities are required.
Under the Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers, a representative must be appointed for an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker. A representative shall be appointed without delay for a child who has been issued with a residence permit under a refugee quota and for a child who is a victim of human trafficking holding a residence permit if the child in question is residing in Finland without a custodian or other legal representative. Representatives may also be appointed for other children who have been issued with a residence permit and who are residing in Finland without a guardian or other legal representative.
The representative is responsible for supervising the interests of the child during asylum and family reunification processes and in other legal matters concerning the child’s person and assets.
The same representative will continue supporting the minor after the minor has been granted a residence permit and moves into a family group home or other housing unit, unless there is a particular reason for changing the representative. The representative does not take care of the child's immediate daily care or upbringing, but generally looks after the child's best interests in matters related to housing and other life situations.
The representative's duties end on the child coming of age, or if the child is assigned a guardian or other legal representative or if they move permanently out of Finland.
The application for appointing a representative is submitted by the body responsible for social welfare in the municipality where the child is residing. Before applying, the child must be heard, and the best interests of the child must be considered.
Provisions on the eligibility and duties of a representative of an underage asylum seeker and on releasing a representative from their duties are laid down in the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration and the Act on the Reception of Persons applying for International Protection.
Normally, a minor asylum seeker has a representative even before they have been granted a residence permit. If, for any reason, this is not the case, a representative shall be assigned to the child without delay. The decision on the representative is made by the District Court.
Under the Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection, the representative of an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker exercises the right to be heard of a custodian in matters concerning the child's person and assets and manages the child's assets. Under the same Act, the child must be heard when making decisions concerning him or her or his or her assets. The representative is not responsible for the daily care, upbringing or other care of the child.
The representative exercises the right of action of a custodian regarding the child's educational, social welfare and health services and other matters that are central to the child's life. For example, the representative participates in drawing up the child’s integration plan. They also assist the child in keeping in contact with the child's relatives in Finland or elsewhere. The development and administration centre for the ELY Centres (KEHA-centre) pays compensation for hours worked and travel expenses to the representative of a child who has been granted a residence permit.
A representative of an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker
Social Welfare Act
Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection and on the Identification of and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings
Government decree on the fees and compensation of costs paid to the representative of an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker (in Finnish)
Code of Judicial Procedure
Administrative Procedure Act
Guardianship Services Act