Summary in English
This report, Summary of the County Governors' supervision of child welfare institutions in 2020 and 2021, is a compilation of the county governors' annual reports from 2020 and 2021. A total of 1,752 audits of almost 900 institutions were carried out during these two years. Together with figures on use-of-force reports and complaints, this provides a picture of the situation in the country's child welfare institutions.
The findings from the county governors' supervision of child welfare institutions show issues that can prevent children from getting the right help at the right time. The report describes issues that are recognisable from previous reports from the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision.
The aims of the county governors' supervision of child welfare institutions are:
- to ensure that laws and regulations are being complied with
- to ensure that the children's due process is safeguarded
- to ensure that the institutions provide children with proper care and treatment.
In general, the county governors describe how the institutions go to great lengths to meet and protect the children's needs, and ensure that the children are safe and well. Nevertheless, an overall picture of challenges across institutions emerges. These are challenges that affect the ability of the institutions to give children what they are entitled to. The challenges show the importance of a clear division of responsibility and cooperation between institutions that will help provide children with lasting change and positive development.
The report highlights the following factors which are particularly important for children in child welfare institutions:
- A lack of collaboration, skills and staffing makes it challenging to provide adequate and tailored institutional services
- Serious use of force is increasing - but the proportion of complaints is decreasing
- Specific requirements to prevent the use of force are necessary for children with complex needs
Complexity is increasing
The county governors stress that children's needs and challenges are becoming more complex. The annual reports describe a situation where children living in institutions often need coordinated help from several institutions at the same time, and that this requires better cooperation across institutions. Challenges relating to health follow-up are highlighted in particular.
The county governors also highlight the extent to which measures are available that are tailored to the actual needs of the children. In this regard, they also emphasise the importance of ensuring that the children's challenges are adequately mapped before they move to an institution. A number of county governors reported that the institutions are not tailored or do not have the necessary prerequisites to meet the needs of the children. One consequence is that the institutions are responsible for following up on children without the necessary assistance from other institutions.
Marked decrease in the number of complaints
The total number of use-of-force reports submitted has remained relatively stable since 2017. This is also the case for the way in which the reports are distributed according to the type of force, intervention and restrictions. When children are subjected to force or other intervention, they have the right to complain, and this right is an important guarantee of due process. The number of complaints remained relatively stable from 2017 to 2020, but then fell markedly between 2020 and 2021, with almost half the number of complaints submitted.
A number of the county governors highlighted situations where use of force could have been avoided if prevention had been more systematic.
Dependent on coordinated cooperation
The institutions themselves are responsible for complying with the requirements for adequate services and correcting offences. Supervision will help to uncover and correct offences and strengthen the work to bring about improvements in the institutions. As this report shows, it appears to be a challenge for the institutions to implement the necessary changes alone, as the ability of the institutions to meet children's needs depends on coordinated cooperation from many different institutions. The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision believes that better cooperation and a clear division of responsibility between institutions is necessary, so that children who are unable to live at home receive tailored services aimed at optimising their upbringing and development.