Reports of concern

A report of concern to the child welfare service may come from the child itself or another family member or it may come from somewhere else, such as a child health clinic, the Family Counselling Service, the police, a hospital, a school, a day care institution or a neighbour.

Reports to the child welfare service

A child welfare case may be initiated in any of a number of ways. In many cases, the family itself contacts the municipal child welfare service with a request for help. The case may also be initiated by a report to the child welfare service from someone who is concerned about the child.

Such a report of concern may come from the child itself or another family member or it may come from somewhere else, such as a child health clinic, the Family Counselling Service, the police, a hospital, a school, a day care institution or a neighbour.

All public employees are obliged by law to contact the child welfare service if they are seriously concerned about a child. However, it is important to be aware that anyone who is concerned about a child can report their concern to the child welfare service. The child welfare service must assess the content of the report regardless of where it comes from.

All reports received by the child welfare service must be assessed within a week. The child welfare service is obliged to institute an investigation when there are reasonable grounds to assume that a child is in need of child welfare measures. Out of regard for the child, the threshold for instituting investigations is deliberately low, to enable the child welfare service to identify children in need of help from the child welfare service. If the child welfare service institutes investigations, the purpose is to investigate the child’s care situation and assess the need for various measures.

What investigations and measures are appropriate will to a great extent depend on the individual case. 

Response to the sender of a report of concern

The child welfare service is obliged to send a response to a person who has sent a report of concern to the service (see section 6-7a of the Child Welfare Act). The information to be provided by the child welfare service depends on who sent the report:

  • If the report was sent by a private individual who is concerned about the child, the child welfare service must, within three weeks at the latest, send a response acknowledging receipt of the report.
  • If the report was sent to the child welfare service by someone with a duty of disclosure, the child welfare service must in addition notify whether it has instituted investigations. The child welfare service must also send further notification when the investigations have been completed. This notification must indicate whether the matter has been dropped or whether the child welfare service will follow it up further.