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Widespread use of private firms by Norwegian Child Protection Services (CPS)
Erik Strand, March 03, 2015

In an article by the Norwegian state owned TV channel NRK on February 3rd, it was revealed that Norwegian municipalities hire assistance from private firms to do examinations and case handling in child protection cases. About 40 firms offer such services. Out of these, about ten firms also offers municipalities help in finding foster homes, emergency homes, room for children in institutions or other follow up of CPS children.

In a commentary to this practice, Sverre Blandhol, professor in public law at the University in Oslo, says that it can be compared to a practice where those who run centres for asylum seekers were to give recommendations on who should be granted asylum.

Kristen Sandberg is a professor in public law and a member of the UN Committee on Children's Rights. She finds it illegal to hire assistance from private firms to do the examination in CPS cases. She has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic.

- A municipality is not allowed to delegate decision power to private. One may say that examinations are not the same thing as decisions, but theis work constitute the foundation for the decisions that the CPS make. And when, in addition, economical interests are involved, the judicial security is in danger.

According to the article, NRK has conducted a survey that shows that about half the Norwegian municipalities have used external case handlers. It is stated that several municipalities that have been in contact with NRK, admit that they are not able to control the professional quality of the reports that the private CPS firms produce.

When questioned about this practice by MP Grande (Labour Party), Solveig Horne, the minister responsible for the CPS, replied that she did not find the practice illegal. Quite the contrary, she found this practice preferable.