Background

The child welfare service shall ensure that children who live under conditions that may be detrimental for their health and development receive the necessary help, care and protection at the right time. Child welfare cases are handled by the child welfare service in the municipalities. The child welfare service take action in accordance with the Child Welfare Act. The service make decisions regarding voluntary assistance measures and emergency orders. They also prepare care order cases and other compulsory measures. Such measures can only be made by the County Social Welfare Board, or the Courts, not the local child welfare service. The Boards are impartial and independent state bodies.

Supervision of the child welfare service and research reports have found shortcomings in the documentations and assessments of the service. Reports have also shown challenges regarding the measures and help given to children who have the most comprehensive follow-up needs. This particularly include children in child welfare institutions.

Several Norwegian child welfare cases are pending for the European Court of Human Rights, and the Court have found violations of article 8 and the right to family life. Some of the judgments have demonstrated that the decision-making process and balancing exercise between the interests of the child and its biological family have not always been adequate. The Court has in particular found violations with regard to the duty of the authorities to work towards reunification of the child with the parents.

The mandate/assignment

The committee shall, among other things, assess:

  • Legal safeguards and quality in the decision-making process in comprehensive child welfare cases
  • The use and the role of experts in child welfare cases
  • The authorities’ follow-up of parents after a care order, with the aim to reunite the child with the parents
  • The child welfare services’ access to measures and competence when handling with complex cases
  • Different sectors’ responsibility, regulations and services in cases where children have serious and complex needs at the point of intersection between the child welfare, health and criminal justice sectors
  • The child welfare services’ institutional services for children with complex needs.

The best interest of the child shall form the basis for the work of the committee.

The committee shall obtain knowledge from children and parents, and other relevant participants and actors, in addition to the use of research, studies and reports.

You can upload your input to the committee here.

The committee had its first meeting on the 31th of May. The committee will submit a report to the government in February 2023. For information about the members click here (information in Norwegian).