Article | Last updated: 2010-02-09 | Ministry of Children and Equality
For most families requiring child welfare services, assistive measures inside the home are sufficient. Placement of the child outside the home only becomes an option if in-home measures are not enough to ensure that the child receives adequate care.
Children may be placed outside the home with or without the consent of parents or the children themselves. Most children who are placed outside the family find themselves in a foster home, while others are placed in a child welfare institution.
Voluntary placement outside the home
When children are placed outside the home as a voluntary assistive measure, the move takes place by authority of the Norwegian Child Welfare Act § 4-4, fifth paragraph. This option exists primarily to aid children whose parents are temporarily unable to attend to daily care needs. In such cases the child welfare service may secure the child a position in a foster home, child welfare institution or centre for parents and children. For additional information, see the Ministry of Children and Equality's guidelines of 10 December 1998 (in Norwegian) on assistive measures – Child Welfare Act § 4-4 (Q-0982) with changes as noted in Q-9/00.
Loss of custody
Parental loss of custody is only likely if a child's situation is serious, and the situation cannot be improved by means of voluntary assistive measures. Because the law assumes that in most cases it is best for a child to grow up with its biological parents, strict conditions are imposed in custody-transfer cases. A decision to take away custody rights for a child may be made if the child is seriously neglected or subjected to abuse or other ill treatment in the home.
Only county social welfare boards are empowered to issue a ruling withdrawing custody rights. The municipality's child welfare service is supposed to study the case and prepare a recommendation. When the county social welfare board makes such a ruling it must always consider the issue of children and their parents spending time together. Children whose parents have lost custody rights may be placed in a foster home or an institution.
Temporary measures in acute situations
In most cases only the county social welfare boards are authorized to rule on placing children outside the home without the parents' consent. Because it is sometimes important to act quickly, the child welfare service or public prosecuting authority can make what is called an "expedited decision". Such actions are undertaken to ensure that a child may be moved out of the home immediately during crisis situations. For additional information see the Ministry of Children and Equality's guidelines of 15 October 1998 (in Norwegian) on temporary measures in acute situations.