Most children live together with their parents. Sometimes, a child has such difficulties at home that they cannot live there any longer. The adults who decide may say that a child has to move away from their parents. The child will move into the home of other adults who can take better care of them. This home is called a foster home. The adults who live there together with the child are called foster parents.
Sometimes, a child has to move into a home for children. A home for children is a house where several children live. There are several adults there who take care of the children. These adults do not stay all the time. When the adults at the home for children go home to their own house, there are other adults who come to look after the children. There are always adults together with the children at the children's home.
Even though some children cannot live at home together with their parents, they are allowed to visit their parents. Sometimes, the parents can come to visit. In other cases, the children can travel home to where their parents live and spend time with them there. It is possibe for children to meet their parents in other places, such as at a playground. The children and their parents then spend, as a rule, some time together. The children are also allowed to talk with their parents on the telephone. Sometimes the adults who make the decisisions will decide that it is not in the best interest of the child to meet the parents.
If a child lives in a situation which is clearly unacceptable in his or her home, the County Social Welfare Board (Board) in accordance with more detailed conditions, adopt the measure that the municipality takes over the daily care of the child. A care order (In Norwegian - omsorgsovertakelse) is a very severe intervention. Therefore, the conditions to implement it are especially stringent.
The European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child limit the possibilities the authorities have to intervene in family life. In Norway, these international conventions overrule Norwegian legislation. Norway’s Supreme Court (In Norwegian Høyesterett) has ruled that the Norwegian legislation conforms with these international regulations.
According to the Child Welfare Act, the fundamental requisite for implementing a care order for the child is when there are serious deficiencies in the everyday care, the child is mistreated or subjected to other serious abuses at home such as child abuse or neglect, and if it highly probable that the child's health or development may be seriously harmed. A care order will be implemented only if it is necessary. It must have been proven not to be possible to provide an adequate level of care at home for the child, even with the assistance of child welfare services and agencies. Such assistance can include support for kindergarten, relief assistance, supervision in the home, urine tests, and guidance for parents. Even if the child is experiencing neglect and comprehensive help is not enough, the care order will not be implemented if it is not the best solution for the child.
The consequence of a care order is that the child must move away from his/her home and away from the parent(s), and move to a foster home or to an institution. In such cases, the foster parent(s) or the institution will provide the daily care for the child in the parents' place and on behalf of the child welfare service. A foster home is with a family who has been approved and complies with the requisites of having an exceptional ability, and the time and energy to provide the child with a safe and good home. Foster parents must have a good reputation, good conduct and present a police certificate. After a placement, regular inspections will be conducted to monitor the child's well-being at least four times per year for children under 15 years of age. The inspector will have interviews with the child, and as a rule, without the presence of the foster parents.
If care of the child is transferred to the authorities, the board will decide whether the child will move to a foster home, or to an institution. Younger children are usually placed in a foster home. The child welfare service is responsible for finding a foster home for the child. The child welfare service shall always consider whether there is someone in the child’s family, or within a close network, who can provide a foster home. If the parents request that the child is placed in a specified home, for example, with grandparents, the board will consider and decide if the child will be placed there.
When a care order is implemented, the board will make a decsion about parent and child visits, including how long these visits should last. If it is considered necessary to prevent the child from harm during the visits, for instance, because the child is afraid of being left alone with his/her parents, the boards will make a decision about supervision during the visits. The boards may limit parental contact to the child by telephone, post and/or social media.