Sommer, who unfortunately died last year, lived in Jutland
in Denmark. She worked for many years against harmful
forcible removals of children from their parents carried
out by the Danish Child Protection Service. She also wrote
very good articles in several fora about this as well as
about other aspects of social politics.
Else's wish was that I should make use of what she wrote
wherever it could be useful and I therefore hope that she
would have liked this publication in English as well.
This article was published in Danish
29 January 2008, on Forum Redd Våre Barn
30 January 2008, and on mhskanland.net
22 July 2013.
This translation was made by me.
Marianne Haslev Skånland
Danish family is in need of help and goes to the social
services, what kind of assistance can be given?
A great number of families must make do with something like
1 - 2,000 crowns at their disposal per month [2,000 Danish
crowns equals something like 250 Euros.]
The Minister of welfare says there is "inner poverty" if
one cannot buy food, clothes, shoes, transport, dentist etc
etc, for 2-3 persons for that sum.
According to the state's own nutrition council it costs
something like 1,700 crowns per month to buy nurishing food
for a boy of 17.
Very old pensioners in old people's care homes – not
usually voracious eaters – pay 3,500 (or a little more or
less) for board per month.
"at-home-with-you" assistant may be granted. This is
normally a teenager with no training and no clear idea of
taking care of himself/herself. Typically one who intends
to study to become a social worker later. Ordinarily this
"at-home-with-you" assistant is a considerable burden on
the family needing help.
child protection service complains that schools are not
energetic enough in reporting "problem children". OK. Here
is the story of two boys who did not want to go to school
because their reading skills are deficient. Both are 12
years old and the parents in both cases asked for help to
solve this problem.
A is taken care of by an energetic school psychologist who
wants special teaching/training for the boy. After a year
and a half the social administration has finally found out
that it is a problem that belongs in the sector of child
psychiatry. And the child psychiatry services (with waiting
lists for several years) are of the opinion that the boy is
too stupid for them to work with.
His IQ is located in the good end of the normal area.
The boy persists
in avoiding school, because he is ashamed.
B is obviously not taken care of by anybody. But one day
the father nevertheless succeeded in having an advisor - a
psychologist paid by the municipality - visit the home. The
following conversation (more or less) took place:
You must send your child to school.
Father: There is nothing I would rather do. That is why I
have asked for help.
Psych: It is your responsibility to make him go.
Father: I am aware of that, but I don't know how.
Psych: It is your responsibility as a father.
Father: Yes, but I had hoped that you could give me some
advice about how I get him to go to school.
The door banged
behind the wise man and he has not been seen in that
neighbourhood since. The boy still refuses to go to school.
All the municipality can offer is to remove the boys
forcibly from their homes. But that would be reckless,
because children taken into care rarely get any sensible
schooling at all. These two boys' reading proficiency is
somewhat uncertain. At twelve years, the children in care
whom I know have got as far as to master the alphabet
Happily, everything that happens is "in the best interest
of the child".
Also by Else
On foster children
23 July 2013