Replacement care

The natural growth and development environment for a child is their family. In order to enable children to grow in their own family, the state must support their parents in raising children. In a situation where the parents are unable to ensure the child a safe family environment even with state support, it is up to the state to provide the child with suitable replacement care outside their own family. Replacement care in the most general sense means taking care of the child outside their birth family either short or long term. Replacement care can take the form of adoption, foster care, guardianship, or residential care.

 

Replacement care

Adoption

Adoption results in identical rights and obligations for the adopting person and the adopted person to those arising from the biological birth of a child. A child can only be adopted by accounting for the interests of the child and if there is reason to believe that a parent-child relationship will be created between the parent and the child. A child of at least 10 years of age can be adopted only by the consent of the child. The opinion of the child is also taken into account when adopting a child younger than 10 years.

A child can be adopted if:

  • the parent(s) of the child have given their consent for the adoption;
  • the parent(s) of the child are deceased; or
  • custody of the child has been completely taken away from them.

Requirements for the adopting person:

  • The adopting person must be at least 25 years old and have full legal capacity.
  • Married persons adopt children jointly; in exceptional cases, only one of the marriage partners can be the adopting person if the legal capacity of the other partner is limited.
  • A single individual can also be an adopting person.

In order to adopt a child, the person must turn to the National Social Insurance Board.

For more information on international adoptions, we recommend you to contact the National Social Insurance Board. Ly Rüüs: 6208 391, ly.ruus@sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee.

Foster care

Foster care is a social care service provided to children as an alternative to residential care. Foster care takes place under a written agreement signed between the city or municipal government and the person providing foster care. Children under foster care are eligible for all family allowances as well as the allowance for children under foster care or guardianship, meant for compensation of the upkeep of the child. Read more about family benefits here.

Guardianship

If neither parent of a child has the right of representation or if the filiation of the child cannot be determined, the child will be assigned a guardian. The establishment of guardianship will create a limited legal child-parent relationship between the child and the guardian; in specific cases, the court can further specify the scope of the rights. The guardian has custody over both the person and the property of the child. The obligations of the guardian cannot be placed on a third person. The guardian is a natural person; if no suitable natural person is found, a legal person can also be assigned as a guardian.

Obligations of the guardian:

  • asking and accounting for the opinion of the child under guardianship in situations where it is relevant in consideration of the age and development of the child;
  • managing the property of the child with the due care of a good guardian; responsibility for damage caused by the wrongful infringement of their obligations;
  • for transactions involving significant economic risks, the guardian requires the consent of the court.

Residential care service 

The purpose of the residential care service is to provide children in need with family-like living conditions, to create a safe living environment facilitating their development, and to prepare the children for coping to the best of their abilities as adults. The service is funded by the state, with the minimum and maximum cost per child per calendar year established by the relevant regulation of the Minister of Social Protection. Providers of residential care service are registered in the register of economic activities based on their activity licence; their locations can be found here.

Last updated: 6 November 2017