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Division of responsibility in the Child Welfare Services

Both the local and central authorities have duties and responsibilities in the child welfare field. The municipality is responsible for performing those functions under the Child Welfare Services Act which are not assigned to a central government body. 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 providing advice and guidance, undertaking investigations, and making administrative decisions pursuant to the Child Welfare Services Act. The Service shall as well  prepare cases for consideration by the county social welfare board, and implementing and following up child welfare measures.

The child welfare responsibilities of the central authorities are divided between the Ministry of Children and Families, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and five regional offices, and the county governors. The Ministry has the overriding responsibility for child welfare.

The Ministry of Children and Families has the administrative responsibility for the Child Welfare Services Act and oversees that the Act, regulations and other provisions 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/issue? guidelines and instructions, initiating research in the field, developing general child welfare policy and providing accessible information about child welfare. The Ministry of Children and Families is not the appeals body/has no competence 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 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, centres for parents and children and care centres for minors as well as of other central government services and measures under this Act. The county governor is the appeals body for individual decisions that are reached pursuant to the Child Welfare Services Act.

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 a state body and serves as a tribunal. Decisions made by the board is impartial and pursuant to the Child Welfare Act, and include care orders and forced intervention in the case of adolescents/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.

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