Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen
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Child Welfare Removal of Infants

NEW ARTICLE: Need for a re-examination of the rights of infants and their specific needs in the Nordic welfare states.

Anne-Dorthe Hestbæk, Ingrid Höjer, Tarja Pösö and Marit Skivenes have recently published a policy analysis in the journal Children and Youth Services Review. The article examines the position of infants’ rights in the family service orientated child welfare systems of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden when being placed in out-of-home care.

The authors note that the Nordic child protection systems have less infants and young children placed out-of-home than for example the American and the British system.

However, focusing on the removal of infants specifically, and looking at all forms of removal, these rates are not especially low in all Nordic countries.

Differences across the Nordic countries

A principle of the family service-oriented child protection systems in the Nordic welfare states is to provide extensive parental services and benefits to ensure that intrusive interventions are unnecessary. Findings shows that despite a preventive ambition, the prevalence of infant placements in the Nordic countries is relatively high.

The analysis of the development over a decade displays intra-country differences in the prevalence of infant removal, varying from 2 per 1000 to 8 per 1000. Throughout the 10-year period, the internal ranking between the countries remains relatively constant, with Norway highest and Denmark lowest.

The authors claim that infant removal in Nordic countries has little attention in legislation and policy, and that there is lack of research, as well as lack of guidelines for decision-makers, concerning infant removal. They state that the results invite for a re-examination of infants’ needs and rights under current child protection policies.

Anne-Dorthe Hestbæk, Ingrid Höjer, Tarja Pösö & Marit Skivenes (2020). Child welfare removal of infants: Exploring policies and principles for decision-making in Nordic countries.
Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 108, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104572.



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