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Amendments in the Child Welfare Act

The Parliament has adopted amendments to the Child Welfare Act which came into force 1 July 2018. The amendments will strengthen the legal safeguards for children and their parents in child welfare cases.

Illustrasjonsfoto: Jente på brygge
Credit: Colourbox

The aim is to ensure that children and families receive right help at the right time.

Legal rights for children to necessary child welfare measures.

Among the adopted amendments is a legal right for children to necessary child welfare measures.

- This amendment underlines the child as the main person in child welfare cases, says Minister of Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland.  

The amendment may contribute to an increased knowledge among children and parents that the child has individual rights, and that they have a possibility to seek help from the child welfare service. 

A legal right for children to be heard in matters affecting them. 

- In order for the child welfare service to provide children with the right help, we must listen to the children themselves. Reports on supervision reveal that children claim they are not sufficiently involved in  their own child welfare case. Thus, it has been necessary to amend the law in order to clarify that children have independent rights to be heard, also in child welfare cases.

The significance of meeting children with love, care and understanding has been included in the Act.

– It has been an important issue for the children themselves that people working in the child welfare service always should approach the children with love, care and understanding. The purpose of the amendment has been to emphasise that the Act shall contribute to children receiving love and care, says Minister of Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland.

 Respectful cooperation with parents and children

A legal requirement that the work of the child welfare services is carried out with respect for, and in cooperation with children and parents, has been introduced in the act

- Child welfare cases are characterised by a high degree of sensitivity. Thus it is important that the child welfare service follow up the children and parents in a respectful and cooperative way, says Minister of Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland.

Furthermore the temporary nature of a care order has been specified in the act.  The child welfare service shall facilitate the return of the child to the parents, as long as this iss in the best interest of the child. We have also introduced further requirements to follow up parents to enable them to be reunited with the child.

Involvement of the family

- In many cases the best alternative placement of the child will be within the family or close network of the child. It has therefore been introduced a legal requirement for the child welfare services to involve the child's family or network, and always consider whether someone in this group can provide a foster home for the child.

An overview over the amendments is available on Lovdata.

Revision of the Child Welfare Act

In addition to the completed amendments in Child Welfare Act which came into force 1 July 2018, The Ministry is currently revising the Act in full. The purpose is to modernise the law and make it more adaptable to today's society, as well as to further strengthen the children's rights.

There will be a technical, linguistic and structural review of the Act, in addition to further substantive legislative changes. Among other topics, the Ministry is reviewing the child's party rights, the child's right to contact with family members after a care order, the child welfare services preventative work and the quality of the child welfare institution.

The aim of the Ministry is to send a draft legislation for a new Act on public hearing during 2019.

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