How is the best interest of an undocumented child considered?

Undocumented children are in an extremely vulnerable position in society. They are not registered in the Population Information System. The maternity and child health clinic does not monitor their development because they are not able to visit the clinic. The parents of undocumented children living in Finland without the right to do so are not residents of a municipality, so they are not covered by the social and healthcare services of any municipality. This means that the children are also at risk of being excluded from child welfare services.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which also binds Finland, in all actions concerning children undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration. This obligation is directed at all authorities and applies to all children living in Finland regardless of their status. The Aliens Act, for example, also stipulates that in any decisions issued under the Act that concern a child, special attention shall be paid to the best interest of the child and to circumstances related to the child’s development and health.

The authorities must treat all children primarily as children and consider their best interest regardless of the residence status of their parents. In decisions concerning a child, the child’s best interest must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The fundamental rights to which children are entitled include the right to health and the right to free basic education.