Purpose & Area of Authority

The child welfare system in Norway is a group of services organized to promote the child’s best interests. This helps to ensure that children and youth living under conditions that may harm their health and development receive the necessary help and care, at the right time.

All children in Norway have the same rights.  The Child Welfare Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of nationality.  The local and national authorities share responsibilities for child welfare services.

At the local level, the municipality is responsible for child welfare services.  All the municipalities in Norway are required to have a child welfare service.  Each municipality is responsible for a child’s living circumstances.

At the national level, the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality has overall responsibility for child welfare services.  The Ministry supports the delivery of services through legislative initiatives, policy design, and overall administration.

The Child Welfare Act allows the use of compulsory measures in certain situations where such is necessary.  The County Social Welfare Boards (Boards) are an official state body instituted to make impartial and independent decisions about such cases.  The boards are headed by lawyers who are qualified as judges. Decisions by the boards are made pursuant to the following Norwegian laws: Barnevernloven is The Child Welfare Act, Helse- og omsorgstjenesteloven is the Act Related to Health and Healthcare Services, and Smittevernloven is the Act Related to the Control of Communicable Diseases.  Case management will be satisfactory, expeditious and inspire confidence. All parties will be heard, treated equally and receive the necessary guidance.  The boards will provide the parties with legal counsel if requested.  The cost of the attorney will be paid by the state.

There are 12 County Social Welfare Boards in Norway.  A central office is responsible for the administrative management of the boards. The boards are an agency within the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality (In Norwegian Barne- og likestillingsdepartementet.)