A law with far-reaching effects was the 1973 Child Day Care Act, which stipulated that all local governments were to provide good child day care for all families that desired it. The care for children up to seven years of age could be given either in day-care centers, sometimes private but generally run by local governments, or by accredited baby-sitters, either at the child's home or outside it. Although the number of places for day care had more than doubled to 100,000 by the mid-1980s, it would have had to double again to meet total needs. A 1985 law set the goal of being able to allow, by 1990, all parents of children up to the age of three the choice between home-care payments or a place for their child in a day-care center. One parent could also take unpaid employment leave until the child's third birthday. The Child Welfare Act of 1983 enjoined local governments to look after children, and it empowered them to take a variety of measures if a child was being seriously neglected or abused. In the mid-1980s, about 2 percent of Finnish children were affected by this law. Another 1983 law made the corporal punishment of children illegal, as it was in the other Nordic countries.
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