The Child Welfare Service is tasked with providing assistance when persons under 18 years of age have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to violence or assault, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or threats of same. Other examples of situations in which the Child Welfare Service can help is if parents are abusing drugs or alcohol or when a child has serious behavioural problems or problems associated with criminality or drug/alcohol misuse. The help is free.
Help measures directed at the home could be:
- advice and guidance for the family
- parent groups
- support contact
- financial support for kindergarten place
- financial support for out-of-school care for schoolchildren (SFO/AKS)
- financial support for leisure activities or other activities
- relief support at weekends or visiting home.
“The best interests of the child” is key to the Child Welfare Service’s work (cf. Section 4-1 of the Child Welfare Act – Determining the best interests of the child). Sometimes this may conflict with the parent’s wishes. The Child Welfare Service will help and support parents to enable them to care for their children properly, and their children should live at home, if possible.
In certain serious cases it is not in the best interests of the child to live at home, and the Child Welfare Service must assume responsibility for caring for the child. This could take place with or without the family’s consent. Only the county committee, which is a court-like body, can make decisions about taking children into care when it is against the wishes of their parents.
“The Child Welfare Service will help and support parents to enable them to care for their children properly”
The Child Welfare Service depends on people notifying them of any concerns they may have about a child, so that the child and its family can receive the help they require. Whether you are a private individual or work with children and young persons, you have a statutory obligation to report any concerns you may have.
Most staff in the Child Welfare Service are either child welfare officers, social workers, legal practitioners or psychologists. The staff have a duty of confidentiality and are therefore not allowed to share any information about you with others without your consent, or if there is a risk to life and health. The Child Welfare Service can offer an interpreter when necessary.
All municipalities in Norway offer a child welfare service. Many local authorities also offer an emergency child welfare centre. The website barnevernvakten.no includes a list of municipal child welfare services and emergency child welfare centres, as well as other useful information.