Reform schools are national service providers for demanding substitute care and demanding special care. In 2019, there were reform schools operating in five different locations, with a total of 126 places of care and 247 young people. The Act on the child welfare units under the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (1379/2010) lays down provisions on the operations of reform schools. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and, for the basic education organised in reform schools, the Finnish National Agency for Education are responsible for the performance guidance for reform school activities. Reform schools have boards of directors set by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare for four calendar years at a time. Reform school units include Lagmansgården (Pedersöre), Liminka education centre (Liminka), Sairila (Mikkeli), Sippola (Kouvola) and Vuorela (Vihti).
Reform schools are specialised in producing a service where substitute care and special needs education form a rehabilitative entity. The key contents of the service include education and guidance in accordance with the child’s development level and needs, special needs education, support for healthy mental growth, family work and e.g. substance abuse work when necessary.
Reform schools organise a special care service which can safeguard the treatment, care and education of the children and young people with the most difficult life situations and most challenging symptoms. Reform schools can also provide the mental health services referred to in the Mental Health Act excluding involuntary treatment.
Reform schools implement research and development projects. The work carried out with young people and their families and the used approaches are developed based on research knowledge. Experts by experience from reform schools have already served as partners for development for a long time.