An Equal Start in Life – Finland’s Baby Box

Finnish Baby Boxes
Finnish Baby Boxes

One of the most beautiful things we have seen is the Baby Box for all newborns in Finland.

‘I started life in a box, we all did!’ said a colleague, who was proud of the equality given to all babies in Finland since 1938. An equal start, and an equality in society that is mirrored throughout life.

Every Finnish mother receives a maternity grant when baby is born.

We started to get really interested in the concept of the box. At our meeting in the Finnish Embassy, which was actually not to do with provision for babies, we were shown the most beautiful boxes. The box has a mattress and sleeping oufits so the baby can sleep in the box for several months of their life.

The contents of the box include all that you would need for a new baby, and in excellent quality. The clothes, including very warm snuggly ‘all in ones’ are in colours that are gender neutral, and really beautiful. Who would not to have one of these?

An equal start in life it really is. And an equality that pervades the whole of the Finnish culture.

The baby box has been available since 1938 and is provided as the maternity grant. Mothers can choose between cash and the box. Of the 60,000 grants distributed annually by Kela, Social Insurance Institution in Finland, two thirds are taken as maternity packages as the baby boxes with contents.

In the 1960’s sleeping bags first appeared in the boxes instead of quilts. By the 1980’s and 90’s families had become better off, but since the package remained as popular as ever it was decided to continue.

In the 2000’s the boxes continue and the contents are reviewed annually by a social insurance committee following a competitive tendering process, in which quality and affordability are equally important.
The boxes are available to purchase for anyone living outside Finland, who is not covered by the Finnish social security system, and can range from a Summer Basket to a Cold Winter Basket.

Our partnership is very socially minded and this idea has a huge appeal, so simple, so beautiful and yet so practical. It provides an equal start in life and a pride of life in a box shared by all citizens in Finland.

Kela Maternity Box

Sue Martin FRSA
SmithMartin Partnership

 

 

 

 


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Institute of Education Research Findings:
    Pre-School Childcare

    Library CH 005Provision and use of Pre-School childcare in Britain.


    Key Research Findings Seminar at Institute of Education, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL, London.
    July 24th 2015

    The research was undertaken with the aim of understanding childcare provision and usage in Britain, with the view to contribute to policy development.

    An engaging debate was held at the seminar at UCL, in the midst of the graduation ceremonies. It sparked much conversation and thought about issues of childcare, work force, viability, education and childcare.

    The research titled, ‘Provision and use of Pre-School childcare in Britain’, a secondary analysis of childcare using large-scale national datasets, published on 24th July by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), warns of the possibility of a shortage in the childcare work force.

    Chairing the seminar was Emeritus Professor of Education, Peter Moss and research summaries were given by Antonia Simon and Charlie Owen, with a panel including Jill Rutter, Family and Childcare Trust, Claire Schofield, National Day Nurseries, and Neil Leitch, Pre school Learning Alliance.

    It appears that in 2015, the sector has developed considerably in some ways but there are glaring inadequacies which are preventing Early Childhood Services moving into a world class provision, a previous goal. Professor Moss indicated that the work force remains poorly paid, access needs improving , and we currently have strong central control with a fragmented system of provision and delivery.

    The research on the work force was led by Antonia Simon and will be available on a new website at beginning of August.

    Key findings were; that the work force is strongly gendered, 98% are female, qualifications have increased but pay is persistently low. It was interesting the educational qualifications of mothers had the most beneficial aspect to enable young children to access good quality childcare, both in amount and type.

    For the majority of parents, the access to different types of childcare, was important, and a combined use of formal and informal provision was the most normal pattern.

    The debate from the attendees and panel raised some fascinating questions and created a consensus that this debate and research would be a very useful if our forward to the DFE.

    The Early Years Sector has had a considerable degree of travel over the last decade and it would seem that there is still much room for development to allow a system which delivers quality provision and universal accessibility, indeed a world class provision.

    ‘We have a system which is creaking at the seams. We need to make changes rather than add on more to a ramshackle approach’. Professor Peter Moss

    Sue Martin FRSA
    Consultant in Early Years Childhood Services
    SmithMartin Partnership LLP


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Parent Champions’ Training for Family and Childcare Trust

    IMG 1794

    Parent Champions’ is a volunteering project established by the Family and Childcare Trust and has become hugely successful in the last seven years.

     

    As one of their trainers for the project I have been in Newham on a cold Friday in February at the Little Sheringham Children’s Centre to work with a group of volunteers who will make contact with parents in the community and provide them with the way to find out information.

    ‘Parent volunteers who spend a few hours a week linking with other parents, to tell them about local childcare and other family services. Being parents, they can chat in a more informal way and share information and their own positive experiences about using local services. They meet parents in all sorts of places such as playgrounds, markets, libraries and local play groups. They are supported by the local authority, a children’s centre or a local community organisation.’ Family and Childcare Trust website.

    Based on the premise that ‘ word of mouth’ is a good way to spread information, this project has proved that it does two things really well; one is to let people know what is possible for the their family, and two, to realise potential in the volunteers themselves as they gain in confidence and in skills.

    .IMG 1793

    As I was about to leave the training in Newham, Stephen Timms, the MP for Newham walked in to the centre. A real accolade for Children’s Centres being at the heart of the community

     

    Sue Martin SmithMartin Partnership LLP- Bringing a light into communities.

    Free childcare offer for 2 year olds

    playFamily and Childcare Trust has released details from recent research which shows that thousands of two year olds in England may be missing out in the free entitlement to childcare.

    The programme to give 40 per cent of England’s most deprived children high quality early education by September 2014 has not met its target. While 74 per cent of these children have been placed in nurseries and with childminders, there are big differences between local authorities in the proportions of children receiving free early education.

    In London just 51 per cent of eligible children had been placed by November 2013. There are 37 local authorities where less than 60 per cent of eligible two-year-olds had been placed by November 2014, of which 25 were in London.

    Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “This flagship policy is vital to the long-term outcomes of England’s most disadvantaged two-year-olds and to close the attainment gap between more advantaged and disadvantaged children.

    “We know this is a challenging ask but local authorities must deliver on this policy. They need to make sure that local children’s centres are fully utilised and funded to provide the necessary places for the two-year-olds who are missing out. They also need to take advantage of the time-limited offer of grants and other support available to them from central government to expand provision.”

    Much work to be done to ensure that parents can access childcare for two year olds, and have a reasonable choice giving quality childcare.

    Sue Martin

    SmithMartin Partnership LLP – working with the Early Years Agenda

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  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...