Press release | Date: 2010-01-08
Psychologist An-Magritt Aanonsen has been named head of the Commission on Child Welfare Experts. The appointment was made Friday at a government cabinet meeting. The other 11 members of the commission have now also been appointed, all for a period of three years.
An-Magritt Aanonsen is a former president of the Norwegian Psychological Association.
The commission (Barnesakkyndig kommisjon) was created to strengthen legal protections in child welfare cases by exerting quality control of all reports submitted by forensic experts in such cases, whether the reports are ordered by child welfare officials, county social welfare boards, the courts or the private parties involved. Not until a report has been reviewed by the commission may it serve as a rationale for assistive or protective-care responses provided under the Child Welfare Act. When an expert witness’s report leads to a decision not to intervene, it, too, shall be submitted to the commission. An expert opinion leading to non-intervention is just as important to a child as a one that leads to action, so the quality of all expert reports must be ensured with equal vigilance.
"A wrong decision in a child welfare case can lead to great human distress," says Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion Audun Lysbakken. "The risk of error must therefore be minimized. The commission has an important role in this. And we are happy that An-Magritt Aanonsen will be leading the commission."
Reports prepared by child welfare experts are intended to help illuminate family situations so that child welfare service providers, county social welfare boards and the courts can make well-founded decisions. In many cases, expert witness reports are indispensable to the provision of child welfare services.
At the same time, expert opinions represent a challenge: Because of the high degree of competence that experts possess, it can be hard for others to oppose their evaluations and conclusions. In public policy debates, some critics have called into question the role of expert witnesses in child welfare cases, citing factors such as their qualifications, methods, judgment and power. Such criticism is part of the reason that a committee set up by the former Ministry of Children and Family Affairs looked into the issue and concluded by establishing a Commission on Child Welfare Experts designed to provide "quality assurance of expert reports in child welfare cases" (NOU 2006:9).
"This will strengthen children's rights," says Audun Lysbakken.
Commission on Child Welfare Experts
Appointed for the period 8 Jan. 2010 to 31 Dec. 2012:
Head of commission:
Psychologist An-Magritt Aanonsen, Oslo
Psychologist Amalia Carli, Oslo
Psychologist Birgit Svendsen, Trondheim
Psychologist Bjørn Solbakken, Hvaler
Psychologist Bård Bugge, Tønsberg
Psychologist Evelin Tjemsland, Horten
Psychologist Kathrine S. Lorentz, Trondheim
Psychologist Kjell Arne Hagen, Oslo
Psychologist Lars Broch, Bergen
Psychologist Lis Astorp Thorseng, Oslo
Psychologist Mette Sund Sjøvold, Nesodden
Psychologist Trond Indregard, Tromsø