If a family needs support

Last updated: 4 10 2021

About Sweden – an orientation about Swedish society.

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. 

An illustration of a concerned father thinking about a young person and alcohol, a sad child, and children in a classroom.

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.

Child development

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.

Parenting support

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.

Read more here about different types of support for parents, families and children:
  • 1177 Vårdguiden

    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.

  • Family centres

    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.

  • Family counselling

    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

    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.

  • Parent groups

    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.

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?