A question of management
Summary of nationwide inspection of the child welfare service's investigation work, 2020-2021
Report by the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision 2/2022
On behalf of the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, in 2020-2021 the county governors undertook nationwide inspection of the child welfare service’s investigation work. The inspection was performed as system audits and as self-assessments. In total, the practice in 90 child welfare services was reviewed. Ofences or points for improvement were found in 80 of these.
A recurring fnding was that the child welfare services do not perform the investigations well enough. This concerns shortcomings in the professional work and inadequate assessments of the information that emerges. Many investigations are performed according to a standard template, without specific assessment of relevant topics to investigate in more detail and which information it is relevant to obtain, and from whom.
Many child welfare services give the children too little information to enable them to have an opinion about the matter. Moreover, there are many cases where children are not heard and are thus unable to voice their opinion. When the children have expressed an opinion, these do not always appear in the case presentation or in the assessments of what will be in the best interests of the child.
Furthermore, many investigations do not progress as the seriousness of the case would indicate. Many child welfare services have such a strong focus on meeting deadlines that in some cases this afects the diligence of the investigations.
A number of the inspections point out that the child welfare service has inadequate case management and administrative understanding. There is also consistently inadequate documentation of professional assessments and justifcations for activities and of conclusions from the investigations.
That such practices are allowed to develop and are maintained is largely due to the fact that managers do not have the necessary overview and do not follow up on mistakes that are made. The quality of the investigation work thereby depends on the individual case ofcer, and not the child welfare service as such.