The Child Welfare Services provides help and support to children, adolescents and parents who are experiencing challenges or difficulties within the family. The Child Welfare Services may also get involved if a child is in need of help for other reasons, such as behavioural issues connected to drugs or alcohol. 

Parents are responsible for providing care and protection for their children. However, if the parents are unable to do so, the Child Welfare Services is obliged to provide whatever help necessary to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care they need.

Our main goal is to ensure that children and adolescents who are living under conditions that represent a risk to their health and/or development receive the help they need when they need it, and to contribute to children and adolescents growing up in safe, secure and caring conditions.

The child's best interest

The Child Welfare Services must base its actions on the best interests of the child. Sometimes the child’s best interests conflicts with those of the parents. The Child Welfare Services’ first duty is to provide help and support to the parents so that they can be good carers for their children. If such measures and initiatives fail to produce the desired result, or if the problems experienced by the parents for whatever reason are insurmountable, an alternative may be to relocate the child or children outside the home for a shorter or longer period.

The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child

The Convention stipulates that all persons under the age of 18 are children and are encompassed under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children’s rights:

  • All children are born free and are of equal worth.
  • All children have the right to a name and nationality.
  • All children have the right to protection.
  • All children have the right to best possible health care and sufficient food and drink.
  • All children have the right to be heard and listened to.
  • All children have the right to education.
  • All children have the right to play, leisure and rest.
  •  All children have the same rights

What happens when the Child Welfare Services receives a note or message of concern about a child or family?

The Child Welfare Services often receives a telephone call or a letter that describes how the caller or writer is concerned that a child or a family is in difficulties or not doing as well it should. We call this a call or note of concern. The Child Welfare Services is obliged by law to study any such call or note and to assess whether or not there is due cause to investigate the matter further.

Opening an investigation

The caller may be contacted

If the Child Welfare Services finds due cause to initiate an investigation, it may happen that the Child Welfare Services contacts the originator of the call or note of concern to obtain more information about the background for the concern.

The parents are contacted

In other instances the Child Welfare Services may see no need to contact the peron who called, and will contact the child’s or children’s parents directly to further investigate the case.

In such case the parents can be called on to attend a meeting at the Child Welfare Servicess offices or at the home. If the Child Welfare Services decides to meet the parents in their home, advance notice of this is given by letter.

Meeting with the Child Welfare Services

When the parents meet with the Child Welfare Services worker, they are given information about the call or note of concern, and in most cases will be able to read it themselves.

After information relating to the notified concern has been provided, the Child Welfare Services worker and the family discuss the content of the call or note of concern.

Further investigation

The Child Welfare Services will often also contact others who know the child and the family, for example the local health centre, kindergarten, school, PP service and similar. The Child Welfare Services is able to make an informed decision on the basis of the above as to whether or not further work in the case is necessary.

How can the child welfare services help?

Everyone can find themselves in a situation where they need help and support to provide proper care for their children. The Child Welfare Services has a duty to provide help to families in such cases.

Many people find it difficult to contact the Child Welfare Services, as they are worried that their children will be removed from the home. The assumption of care is an extremely serious measure to take - both to the children and parents, and there must be extremely good cause before this step is taken. 

Initiatives - help within the home

The majority of those who receive help and support from the Child Welfare Services receive help within the home, so that the child/children and parents can live together. We call this help an initiative, and examples include:

  • Guidance and advice for the family
  • Parent groups
  • A support contact
  • Financial support for a kindergarten place or places
  • Financial support in connection with the day care facilities for schoolchildren arrangement (SFO/AKS)
  • Financial support in connection with leisure time activities or other arrangements
  • Relief at weekends / visiting homes
Familiy group conference

What is a family group conference?

Traditionally it is the Child Welfare Services that decides in child welfare cases, with the family then being presented with a solution determined in advance. However, with a family group conference the involvement of aunts, uncles, grandparents and other adults who know the child is mobilised on the child’ behalf. 

A family group conference is a meeting attended by members of the immediate and extended family, as well as other people of significance to the child. The meeting draws up a plan to improve the family’s situation.

More children are able to stay at home

Family group conferences lead to more children and young people receiving help in the family and from their social network instead of being moved to a foster home or residential child care institution.

You can ask for help to stage a family group conference.

What happens in a family group conference?

These  short films show you what happens in a family group conference (in Norwegian and English)

Foster homes

A foster home is one of several placement alternatives at the disposal of the Child Welfare Services. A foster home is a private residence in which a child who is unable to live with its parents receives temporary care and accommodation. Sometimes it is the parents who, in conjunction with the Child Welfare Services, decide that a child shall be placed in foster care. In other cases it is the County Social Welfare Board that takes the decision on the recommendation of the local Child Welfare Services.

The foster parents provide the day-to-day care of the child on behalf of the Child Welfare Services, which is responsible for following up the child and the foster home, and for providing necessary support measures.

The Foster Care Service is responsible for recruiting and allocating foster homes, and for providing foster parents with the necessary training and general guidance. The Foster Care Service assists the local authority Child Welfare Services with respect to placement, follow-up and conclusion of foster care.

Contact your local Foster Care Service if you have any questions relating to foster homes.

Residential child care institutions

There are various kinds of residential child care institutions in Norway, most of them catering for young people. As a rule, children under the age of 12 are placed in foster care.

Emergency placement and assessment institutions

Emergency placement and assessment institutions are designed for children and young people who need help and assistance at short notice. Placements result from a variety of crisis situations. Emergency placement and assessment institutions offer a short-term solution while efforts are made to determine what would be in the youngster’s best long-term interests.

Youth care homes

Youth care homes accept youngsters aged 12-18. Some offer short-term placements, while others are designed for long-term residence. The latter often have separate bedsits or houses where youngsters live for the last phase of their stay. Residential child care institutions continue to provide follow-up support to young people once they have left the care system.

Bufetat offers places at residential child care institutions. We also approve private and local authority residential child care homes.

List of residential child care institutions

How can i contact the Child Welfare Services?

Send a letter

You can send a letter through the postal service in which you explain that you are in need of help and would like an appointment with the Child Welfare Services. You can send a letter through the postal service if you are concerned about a child. You will have to include a little about what the problem is, who it concerns and how the Child Welfare Services can contact the person in question.

By telephone

You can phone the Child Welfare Services in the municipality the child / adolescent lives in. You will be able to speak to a member of the Child Welfare Services about your concerns. You will be given advice and tips about what you should do next. You can remain anonymous.

Ask for a meeting

Agree on an appointment for a meeting. Many Child Welfare Services offices have allocated time for advice and guidance meetings.

If you would like to have a meeting, call the Child Welfare Services in the municipality and ask if they have time to meet with you. You will be able to talk about your concerns and receive advice and guidance on what you should do next.  You may take someone with you for support. Ask for an interpreter if you need one.

Seek help and advice from the Family Counselling Offices

It is also possible to seek help and advice from the Family Counselling Offices. Families can obtain advice and talk about everyday problems, including about difficulties, conflicts or crises in the family.

The 1996 Haag convention

The 1996 Hague Convention regulates jurisdiction, choice of law, recognition, enforcement and collaboration in relation to parental responsibility and protective measures for children.

Read more about the 1996 Haag Convention