Strengthening children’s right to help

The child welfare service is to be given a new means of providing children with the help they need. An amendment to the Child Welfare Act to make it easier for the child welfare service to order help measures is now being circulated for comment. The purpose of the amendment is to improve children’s situation and avoid invasive measures such as care orders.

– The parents are the most important persons in a child’s life, and we want children to grow up with their parents, says Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion Solveig Horne. – It is in the children’s best interests that more help in the home is made available to those who need it. This may avoid the need for the child welfare service to take over the care of the children at a later date.

New help measures

In the consultation paper, the Ministry proposes that it shall be possible to impose three new main categories of time-limited measures. This assumes that voluntary measures have been tried or considered.

  • Compensatory measures
    The objective is to reduce strain on the child, while ensuring that he or she receives stimulation and participates in activities. Measures that can be implemented include a stay with a respite family, relief measures, recreational activities, help with homework and use of a personal support contact.
  • Care modification measures
    The objective is to help parents to carry out their care tasks in a manner that results in positive developments for the child. Such measures involve various forms of parental guidance.
  • Control measures
    The objective is to control that children are not subjected to abuse or maltreatment. Such measures include analysis of parents’ urine samples and obligations on the part of the parents to report to the child welfare service, e.g. through meetings at an agreed location or telephone contact.

– Implementing help measures without the parent’s consent may be invasive for the parents and the family, but a care order is even more serious, says the Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion. – Regard for the best interests of the children must take precedence, and parents must therefore not be entitled to refuse necessary help.

In the view of the Ministry, rule of law considerations indicate that the decision-making authority should continue to lie with the county social welfare board. However, in the consultation paper, the Ministry requests input concerning this.

More supervision of the home

The consultation paper also recommends lowering the evidence requirements for imposing supervision of the home. Supervision cannot currently be imposed unless the strict conditions for issuing a care order are present. This amendment will enable the child welfare service to implement supervision of the home before the situation becomes so serious that a care order is necessary.