If a family needs support
Last updated: 4 10 2021
All families, parents and children need support and help sometimes. This might be support from friends and family or help from the medical care services. It can also be support from the social services in resolving conflicts within the family. It is never wrong to seek support and help if you feel you need it.
This text is about different types of support to families, parents and children in Sweden. It describes family centres, family counselling and parent groups. It also talks about financial support to families and support to children and young people with functional impairments.
The right to a family life
Children have special rights, and it is the responsibility of the state in which they live to ensure that these rights are upheld. All children have the same rights, and are equal in worth. No child may be subjected to discrimination.
Children's rights are enshrined in the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Child Convention. It states, for example, that all children have the right to grow up in safety and security, and that the best interests of the child must always be considered when making decisions that concern children. It also states that children must be protected from war and disease, and that children's views must be respected.
Children go through many different periods of development. Every child, and every child's development, is different. The pace of development varies between different periods, and children may also have different needs at different ages.
It is normal for parents and other guardians to have lots of questions about their child's development. If you need advice or have questions about your child's development, you can seek help and support.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
- Speak to friends and family.
- Contact the child healthcare centre (BVC), if your child has not yet started preschool.
- Speak to preschool or family day nursery staff, if your child has not yet started school.
- Contact school healthcare services if your child has started school.
- Contact a medical care centre.
- Contact the municipality where you live. Some municipalities provide support to parents in groups or individually. Information is available on your municipality's website.
- Visit the 1177.se website. It has information about child development from age 0 to 18, as well as information about what it is like to be parent at the child's various ages.
If you need parenting support and information
It is not always easy to be a parent, a guardian or another important adult person in a child's life. The responsibility can feel difficult and lonely. Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed, tired or vulnerable. It is perfectly normal to feel that way. There is nothing wrong with needing support, advice or acknowledgement from someone else.
You should not hesitate to you seek help or support if you feel you need it. Often it is easier to get help in solving your problems if you contact someone as soon as the challenges begin. Parents who receive help early can avoid problems their child might otherwise experience later in life. Asking for support and having the courage to tell someone else you are having problems is part of being a responsible parent.
All municipalities have to provide support to parents who want guidance, suggestions and advice about parenting. This is known as parenting support. As a parent, you can be given support together with other parents in a group or individually. Municipalities may offer parenting courses, phone counselling or home visits, as well as other types of activities. You can remain anonymous if you wish. Parenting support is free of charge.
1177 Vårdguiden is a service provided by Sweden's regions. On the 1177.se website, you can read about pregnancy, delivery and parenting, among many other things. It also has information and advice about children's health, illnesses, medical care, development and rights. The website has information in several languages.
Midwifery unit (Barnmorskemottagning, BMM)
If you are pregnant, you will be invited to visit a midwife's office. There you will meet with a midwife who examines the health status of you and your foetus. You can ask questions about your pregnancy and delivery and be given various forms of support. It is also common for midwife's offices to arrange information meetings for groups of parents.
Child healthcare centres (Barnavårdscentraler, BVC)
As a parent, you can get support and advice about your child's health and development at a child healthcare centre (abbreviated BVC in Swedish). Staff there can advise you about breastfeeding, sleeping and illnesses, for example.
If you want to speak to a psychologist about parenting, you can contact the child healthcare centre, the midwife's office or a medical care centre.
Many municipalities have family centres with services for parents and children. Family centres include a midwife's office, a child healthcare centre, open preschool and the social services. Family centres often arrange parent support courses or other activities for children and parents. You can ask any question to do with children, parenting and relationships. Visits to the family centre are voluntary and open to all families. They are also free of charge.
Ask the staff at the child healthcare centre, preschool, school, or library to help you find a family centre in the area where you live. You can also search online for "familjecentral" and the name of your city district or municipality.
All municipalities have family counselling. Family counsellors provide support and help to couples and families. It might be couples who want to improve things in their relationship and continue to live together, or couples in which one or both partners want to separate. Married couples and cohabitants are equally welcome. It might also be couples or parents who want help and support in parenting. In family counselling, you will speak to a counsellor who will help you find solutions to problems. Information about family counselling is available on your municipality's website.
Some municipalities have special parent counselling services that answer questions and provide support specifically around parenting.
Open preschool provides an opportunity for parents and children to meet other parents and children. Visiting open preschools is free of charge. You do not need to register your visit beforehand. Parents and children can visit open preschool to play. As a parent, you can also find parenting support and get to know other families who live in your area.
Municipalities and organisations have open preschools – more information is available on your municipality's website. You can also search online for "öppen förskola" and the name of your city district or municipality.
Municipalities often arrange parent groups. A parent group is an opportunity for parents to meet other parents and share experiences and knowledge. Many municipalities have digital parent groups in which you can participate via your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Several different stakeholders in the municipality can arrange parent groups, including midwife's offices, open preschools and organisations.
The social services
The social services are available in all of Sweden's municipalities. Social services staff are qualified social workers who know about children's needs. Their task is to ensure the well-being of all children and that they grow up in a safe and secure environment. As a parent, you can turn to the social services for parenting support, either in a group with other parents or individually.
Organisations and associations
There are many organisations and associations through which you as a parent can get support and meet other parents. There are sports and cultural associations, for example, as well as associations that address mental health issues, such as associations for parents with autistic children. Some organisations, such as Bris (Children's Rights in Society in English) and Save the Children (Rädda Barnen), promote children's rights. Adult educational associations, faith communities and churches can also provide support.
Bris can help adults who are worried about their children. Bris has a special helpline for adults: call 077-150 50 50.
Questions to think about
Parents can get help and support in a variety of ways. If you are a parent or other guardian, which of them do you think would suit you?
Financial support for families
There are different types of financial support and allowances available if you are a parent or other guardian. You have to fulfil certain requirements in order to qualify for benefits.
Housing allowance for families with children
Housing allowance is a form of support for families with children that need help in paying the rent or the monthly fees for their housing.
You can apply for housing allowance if you have children. You must live in and be registered on the population register in Sweden in order to obtain housing allowance.
The number of people in your family determines whether you are entitled to housing allowance and, if so, how much. This also depends on how high your rent is and how much you earn.
It is important that you inform the Social Insurance Agency is your income changes. Otherwise you may become liable to pay money back.
Parental benefit is money you get from Försäkringskassan in order to be able to stay at home with your child instead of working, looking for work or studying.
How much money you get depends on your income. Försäkringskassan's website has a tool you can use to work out approximately how much parental benefit you can get.
Försäkringskassan pays you a parental benefit for 480 days for one child. If there are two parents and you intend to share the days between you, there are a certain number of days which are reserved exclusively for each parent. If you have sole custody of your child, you are entitled to all 480 days. You can take out a parental benefit until your child turns 12.
Looking after a sick child (Vård av barn, or VAB)
Looking after a sick child ("Vård av barn" in Swedish, or "vab" for short) means you stay home from work or forgo your unemployment insurance (a-kassa) payment to look after a sick child. You receive a benefit which is about 80% of the income you would have had if you had gone to work or received a-kassa. This is known as a temporary parental benefit. You can take out a maximum of 120 days of temporary parental benefit per year.
Child support is money that a parent who does not live with their child has to pay for the child's maintenance. The money is paid to the parent with whom the child lives. Child support has to be used for the child's cost for housing, food and leisure interests.
Maintenance support is financial support that Försäkringskassan can provide to you if you live alone with your child and the other parent is not paying you child support.
One of the requirements for receiving maintenance support is that you and the child live in Sweden. The child must also be under 18 years of age and be registered as resident at your address. You also have to have custody of the child, and you and the other parent cannot be living together.
Child allowance is financial support that is automatically paid by Försäkringskasssan to all parents who live in Sweden and have children here.
Försäkringskassan makes the first child allowance payment one month after the child's birth or one month after the child has moved to Sweden. Child allowance payments from Försäkringskassan cease when the child turns 16.
Young people between the ages of 16 and 20 who are in upper secondary education receive a study grant. The Swedish Board of Student Finance (Centrala studiestödsnämnden, or CSN) is the body that determines eligibility for study grants and pays them to pupils for ten months of the year, from September to June. You do not need to apply for the grant. CSN will pay it to you automatically if your are eligible. The spring term of the year in which you turn 20 is the time limit for study grants.
If a family with a low income has a child under the age of 20 who is upper secondary education, it is possible to apply for more money from CSN in addition to the study grant. This is known as a supplementary allowance.
Support to children and young people with functional impairments
Children with one or more functional impairments are entitled to support from public services. Guardians have to apply for most of these forms of support themselves.
The support will vary depending on the type of functional impairment a child has and how much it affects the child's everyday life. Support is provided by the municipality or region in which you live.
Support is available in different contexts. Schools, for example, have to provide special support to children with functional impairments. This might include personal assistance to pupils.
Children with a major functional impairment are entitled to apply for support in order to be able to live as satisfying and independent a life as possible. This right is laid down in a law called the Act on Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments (Lagen om stöd och service till vissa funktionshindrade, often abbreviated LSS).
If you have a child with a functional impairment, you can apply for a child carer's allowance and an additional cost allowance. Read more about these allowances on Försäkringskassan's website.
Questions to think about
Can you give any examples of the different types of financial support available to families with children?