26 January 2015

Child protection –
rules and regulations and how to worm out of them

by Øistein Schjønsby

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This article was first published in the newspaper Oppland Arbeiderblad, under the title "Barnevernet" (the child protection service), on 5 December 2014.

It is published here with the kind consent of the author.
Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland
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It is time to pass new municipal budgets. At the same time we see an expressed public interest in neglected children and the importance of taking care of them.

The result is a cry for the CPS (child protection service). The CPS, on their side, says that their budget cannot be reduced, "because we carry out a service required by law". Ah yes, mandatory, as so many others say in budget times. So what does the CPS do?

They set up monitoring of families under consideration for intervention. A family's neighbour may be the one who reported the family (denounced them?).

The CPS gives the impression of planning to help the family – in the way they are obliged to by law – but in actual fact nothing much comes of it. Instead, the CPS takes action in the form of removing the child as an acute measure - and the outcome of the case is thereby assured. The child is gone and the County Committee on Social Matters and the court, which are supposed to make sure that we live under the rule of law, do nothing of the kind but practically always accept the proposal of transfer of care of the child to the CPS.

Then we have a certain rule which the CPS sins against very solidly. This is §4 in the regulations concerning foster homes. The second paragraph says "The child protection service shall always consider whether someone in the child's family or close network can be selected as foster home." Of this consideration we rarely if ever see any trace. Oh no, the CPS takes the child and places it with temporary foster parents, after which they go looking for foster parents who are complete strangers to the child. Time passes, for by now there are too few who are willing to be foster parents and permanent placement therefore is long in coming.

In the meantime, the child could have been given a permanent home with its family, typically with grandparents, aunts or uncles, but the CPS is not interested in that. We are left to figure out for ourselves what it is that stops them.

Just for the record: The consideration under §4 is something one is entitled to demand. But the CPS gets around it in several ways. The CPS is not interested in the family having anything more to do with the child.

So I say: Is it really any wonder that people are afraid of the child protection service?