Are children and young people forgotten when municipalities assess the needs of families with economic problems?
Assessment of the needs of children when their parents or guardians apply for social security benefits. Summary of countrywide supervision 2012
Summary of Report of the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision 2/2013
In 2012, the Offices of the County Governors investigated whether the municipalities ensure that the needs of children are systematically assessed when their parents or guardians apply for social security benefits. In 49 out of 70 cases of supervision, it was found that the municipalities did not meet the legislative requirements for an adequate individual assessment.
When allocating social security benefits, children’s needs for clothes, for equipment for leisure activities, for equipment for school, and for safe accommodation, shall be considered and assessed, based on what is usual for children in the same community. Therefore, the municipality must make an individual assessment of what these children require in order to go through childhood with dignity.
Staff with relevant and adequate professional skills, and systematic management and control activities are required to ensure that individual assessments are made, and that it is not left up to chance that people receive adequate and appropriate services. The Offices of the County Governors found that this was the case in very few municipalities. The municipalities had not considered which mistakes and adverse events should be reported in order to prevent inadequate allocation of social security benefits to parents and guardians.
In our opinion, it is serious that the municipalities do not have adequate systems for ensuring that social security offices obtain sufficient information and assess the needs of these vulnerable children adequately.