Child welfare has become better at complying with treatment deadlines
Last year, 16 percent of Child welfare in Norwegian municipalities were able to handle all concern notifications within three months. That’s up from 10 percent in 2015.
– It is a significant improvement, but it’s far from good enough. The Parliament has set a deadline of one week to assess concerns, and three months for cases to be investigated properly. Those who fail to keep the deadline for in all the cases do not do their job properly, says the Director of UNICEF, Ivar Stokkereit to NTB.
Things are, however, better than in several years. Figures from KOSTRA for 2016 show that the proportion of municipalities handling at least nine out of ten cases before the deadline has increased. It was at around 33 per cent in 2015 and has increased to 45 per cent in 2016.
At the other end of the scale there is also improvement. In 2015 there were 52 municipalities that failed to evaluate half of their cases in time, whereas in 2016 there were only 25 municipalities which failed the deadline more often than they complied.
The improvement comes despite the fact that the workload has increased. Numbers from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that there are more concern cases than before and a lower percentage is rejected than before. Thus, the number of cases being processed increased from 43,700 to 47,900 in 2015 to 2016 . The proportion of cases that comply with the deadline has increased from 78 to 83 percent.
One explanation is that the number of employees in child welfare has increased, so that the municipalities in Norway spend more money and a larger proportion of the budget on child welfare. On average 3.1 per cent of municipal budgets in 2016 were spent on child welfare, up from 3.0 per cent the year before.
– At the same time, more attention has been paid to the need to strengthen child welfare, but it is still a long way to go. Exceeding the time needed for processing cases can have major consequences for children, Stokkereit says.
Get a grip
Among the 428 municipalities in the country, most of the countries have moved up or down by some per cent regarding the proportion of cases being processed within three months. Among the 52 which came out the worst in 2015, all are small or medium-sized municipalities, the vast majority have managed to improve in 2016. Some have moved in the, wrong direction. Among the 53 largest municipalities in Norway, Bodø was the worst in 2015, with only 53 percent of the cases handled on time. In 2016 they dropped to a meager 48 per cent.
– We stated that “This must be solved, find out what is the cost, invest the money”, says Mayor of Bodø, Ida Pinnerød (Labour).
The situation has been analyzed, internally redistributed and the working environment improved. So far in 2017 there is a dramatic improvement, and in June there were no breaks of the deadline.
– We are very proud of ourselves and the staff in the child welfare department has provided a lot of effort, but it will also require a lot to sustain the pressure, says Pinnerød.
Stokkereit hopes that municipalities like Bodø are an inspiration to others – and for themselves.
– The goal must be that everyone adheres to a basically spacious deadline. That so many fail to comply is a challenge that municipalities must take seriously. Children who do not receive care and protection at home are dependent on getting it from the society, he says.
Facts on child welfare concern cases
- In 2016, the Norwegian Child Welfare was notified on 58,300 occations, an increase of 7.1 per cent since 2015.
- Requests are to be reviewed within one week, and then those which are considered as substantial is to be processed within three months.
- After the initial assessment, 18 percent of the notifications were discarded in 2016, while the same concerned 20 per cent of the cases in 2015. In the years before that, the percentage was slightly higher, at 21.
- 47,900 cases went on to further investigation, up from 43,700 in 2015, an increase of 9.6 per cent.
- 83 per cent of the cases met the deadline in 2016 compared to 78 per cent in 2015.
- In 2015, 44 of 428 municipalities completed all inquiries before the deadline. By 2016, 70 municipalities were in compliance.
- When the child welfare services carry out an investigation, information is collected, processed and evaluated concerning the child, the conditions at home and the local community. This provides the basis for whether the child welfare service will take action or not.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today