SISUKAS – Foster Child at School

Vanhempi nainen opettaa poikaa


Delivery of the intervention: Individual-based

Aim of the intervention: The intervention aims to strengthen foster children at school-related matters by providing early support and enhancing the child’s positive attitude towards school. The aim is to enhance the child’s strengths and to create a functioning network between the family, the school and the social workers.

Description of the intervention: SISUKAS– foster child at school is an early intervention targeted at children in the primary school age, who are in custody or in a long-term placement. The foundation of the intervention lies on research-based knowledge on the challenges that foster children face at school, and the adverse effects that these challenges can have on the development and psychosocial wellbeing of the child (Oraluoma & Välivaara 2016). In the SISUKAS–intervention, a regional and consultational multi-professional working team, including a social worker, a special education teacher and a psychologist, is established. The intervention begins when the consulting social worker contacts the child, the foster / biological parents, the school and the social worker responsible for the child’s matters. The multi-professional networking supports the child with any school-related matters at an early stage, enables timely informing and focuses on the child’s resources through a dialogue. In the SISUKAS, an individual learning plan is drafted for the child and its fulfillment is followed up. SISUKAShas been conducted also locally as a multi-professional method in cooperation of the social worker responsible for the child’s matters, a special education teacher and the school healthcare.

Availability of the intervention in Finland: SISUKAS-training is targeted at foster parents, foster care and education professionals. In Finland, Pesäpuu ry is responsible for the training. SISUKAS-training material is available in the internet. The SISUKASis based on the SkolFam-model developed in Sweden. In Finland, Pesäpuu ry has been responsible for the development of SISUKASin the Foster Child at School –project. It has been piloted in mid-Finland and parts of it have been piloted in Southern and Northern Savonia, Uusimaa, Satakunta, Varsinais-Suomi and Southern Ostrobothnia.

Research- and evidence-based efficacy of the intervention: Cognitive abilities of children who are in a family placement, have been studied in a Danish RCT-study, which focuses on systematic support provided to foster children (Eiberg, Andersen & Scavenius 2018) and in a Swedish quasi-experimental research on SkolFam (Durbeej & Gumpert 2016) and in a Finnish Pesäpuu ry study (Oraluoma & Välivaara 2016). There is some evidence of effectiveness of the SISUKAS, at least in terms of cognitive skills, which improved in the intervention group as compared to the control group.


  • Durbeej, N. & Gumpert, C. H. (2016) Effektutvärdering av arbetsmodellen Skolfam bland familjehemsplacerade barn i Sverige. Centrum för psykiatriforskning. Dnr 2016/01.
  • Eiberg, M. Andersen, L. K. & Scavenius, C. (2018). Skolestøtte til børn i familiepleje – delrapport I – Et effektstudie. VIVE – Viden til Velfærd Det Nationale Forsknings- og Analysecenter for Velfærd, København.
  • Oraluoma, E. & Välivaara, C. (2016). Sijoitetun lapsen koulunkäynnin tukeminen. SISUKAS-työskentelymallin vaikuttavuuden arviointi. Tutkimuksia 2/2016. Pesäpuu ry.