Division of responsibility in the Child Welfare Services

Both the local and central authorities have duties and responsibilities in the child welfare field. All municipalities must have child welfare services that are responsible for the day-to-day work pursuant to the Act.

The child welfare services are responsible for giving advice and guidance, undertaking investigations, making decisions pursuant to the Act or preparing cases for processing by the county social welfare board, and for implementing and following up cases.

The child welfare responsibilities of the central authorities are divided between the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and five regional offices, and the county social welfare board. The Ministry has the overriding responsibility for child welfare.
The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion has the administrative responsibility for the Child Welfare Services Act and oversees that the Act, regulations and rules are correctly applied. The Ministry ensures that experiences gained from application of the Act are evaluated and then undertakes the necessary amendments. The Ministry is also responsible for giving guidelines and instructions, initiating research in the field, developing general child welfare policy and providing accessible information about child welfare. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion is not the appeals body in individual cases.

Bufetat

This is the Norwegian name for the five regional offices under the central authority of the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs. The regional child welfare authorities are responsible for assisting the child welfare services in municipalities with placement of children outside their home, assisting the local authorities in the recruitment of foster homes and placing children in such homes, and are also responsible for giving foster homes training and guidance. Each of the regional offices is also responsible for establishing and operating institutions and for approving private and municipal institutions used pursuant to the Child Welfare Services Act.

The county governor

The county governor supervises the child welfare activities in each municipality. This means that the county governor ensures that the local authorities carry out their duties in compliance with the Child Welfare Services Act, and ensures that the municipalities receive advice and guidance. The county governor also supervises the child welfare institutions. The county governor is the appeals body for individual decisions that are reached pursuant to the Child Welfare Services Act. Decisions made by the county social welfare board, can only be appealed to a court.

The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision

This board has the overriding responsibility for the supervision exercised by the county governor in the child welfare field.

The county social welfare board

The board is an administrative body with decision-making authority in cases involving care orders and forced intervention in the case of youths with serious behavioural difficulties. Norway has 12 such boards. In each case the board is composed of a chairperson who is a lawyer, two expert members and two lay members. Decisions reached by the county social welfare board may be brought before the district courts.

Division of responsibility between the local and central child welfare authorities

When it comes to the division of duties and responsibilities between the local and central child welfare authorities – including payment schemes in the child welfare services – see Circular Q -06/2007, which is only available electronically.