Social conditions, welfare and crime;Public sector;Immigration and immigrants

Child welfare2015


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Child welfare
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime

Responsible division

Division for Health, care and social statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Notifications: Upon receiving a notification, the Child Welfare Services must review it as soon as possible, within a week, and decide whether no action is to be taken or whether an investigation should be initiated. Until 2013, Statistics Norway did not collect data on notifications where no action was taken and where no investigation was initiated.

Investigations: The Child Welfare Services have a right and duty to initiate an investigation when there are reasonable grounds to assume that a child is living in conditions that require intervention pursuant to the Child Welfare Act. Statistics Norway started collecting data on all investigations in 2013. Prior to this, if the Child Welfare Services conducted more than one investigation into the same child, only one investigation was registered; either the investigation that led to a decision to intervene or the first investigation in the statistical year.

Assistance measures: Assistance measures are in accordance with section 4-4 of the Child Welfare Act (corresponds to section 18 – Preventive measures and section 51 – Follow-up measures in the old legislation). Measures can include financial support, kindergarten placement, support contact, supervision, home visits/home respite, home consultancy, respite care in an institution, parent/child care centre placement (home for mothers), outpatient treatment in mental health care for children and adolescents, etc. The new legislation that came into force in 1993 provides for children being removed from the home, and placed in a foster home, for example, without the need for a decision to provide care. According to section 4-4 fifth paragraph of the Act, such placements are categorised as assistance measures.

Care orders: Care orders are in accordance with section 4-12 of the Child Welfare Act (section 19 in the old legislation). All decisions on providing care for a child and placing him or her in foster care are made by the county social welfare board. Care orders are provided for in section 4-12, and include placement in a care centre for minors, foster home, an institution or a training or treatment institution. When the child is in care, all measures aimed at the child are registered as care orders. Until 2013, local authorities was responsible for reporting whether a measure was a care order. As from 2013, Statistics Norway reports whether a measure is an assistance measure or a care order as provided for in the legislation.

Follow-up care: In 1998, amendments to the Child Welfare Act meant that measures that were initiated before a child turned 18 could be continued or replaced with other assistance measures if the child agreed. Such measures can continue until the child reaches 23 years of age, and a generic term for measures in the age group 18-22 is follow-up care.

New children in the Child Welfare Services: All children who are subject to child welfare measures in a statistical year, who are not included in the child welfare statistics in the preceding year, are defined as ‘new children’ with measures. This means that even if the child is registered as a new child in the child welfare statistics, he or she may have received help previously. Use of personal identification numbers is crucial here for identifying the new children in the Child Welfare Services.

Staff are registered under the following education categories: social workers, child welfare educationalists, other university college/university education, office/commercial education, other education/unskilled.

Organisation: Indicates whether the Child Welfare Services are organised as one host municipality partnership and/or as part of NAV.

Quality indicators: Indicates whether the Child Welfare Services have a system for user surveys, if they have a user survey in the statistical year and if the Child Welfare Services have internal controls.


Standard classifications

Not relevant

Administrative information

Regional level

Figures for the country as a whole, parts of the country, child welfare regions, counties, municipalities and districts in Oslo.

Frequency and timeliness

Unrevised figures are published in KOSTRA on 15 March every year.

Revised figures are published in KOSTRA on 15 June every year.

More detailed statistics are published every year at the end of June/beginning of July.

International reporting

Nordic Social-Statistical Committee (NOSOSKO).


Statistics Norway has yearly datasets and dataset explanations, in addition to a historical dataset at an individual level consisting of figures on assistance measures and/or care orders from the year 1993 and forward.


Background and purpose

The child welfare statistics were first published in 1900, and until 1954, comprised of summary statistics compiled on the basis of annual reports from the predecessor to the current Child Welfare Services. Until 1915, the statistics were produced by the Ministry of Church Affairs and Education, and subsequently by Statistics Norway. Since 1954, child welfare statistics have been prepared based on annual reports from the local authorities. A major reorganisation took place in the 1990s, and in 1992, the range of data was considerably extended. This reorganisation led to a break in some of the time series, including the figures on ‘new’ child welfare clients. Figures on new clients from before and after 1992 are therefore not directly comparable. In 1993, the registration form was changed as a result of new child welfare legislation. The new legislation provides for children being placed outside the home without the need for a decision by the county social welfare board to take over care of the child. However, the figures on children in care from 1993 are comparable.

In 1997, it was decided that notifications to the Child Welfare Services would be excluded, and that only information about who reported the case and the content of the notification would be registered for the children for whom the Child Welfare Services started or ended investigations in the statistical year.

In 1998, an amendment was made to the Child Welfare Act of 1993. The age of children and adolescents who could have follow-up measures was increased from 18-20 to 18-22. Thus, the age group included in the statistics on child welfare was changed.

2002 saw a major reorganisation in the child welfare statistics, with the KOSTRA functions 251 and 252 being included in the reporting basis.

In 2007, the KOSTRA form 15 Child Welfare was changed. The figures on measure categories was expanded.

The reporting of 15 Child Welfare was changed in 2013. The form is no longer available, and the data system can only produce file extractions. All notifications and investigations are now reported, while previously only one investigation was reported per child. The figures on measure categories have been expanded and eight main categories of measures with subcategories have been introduced. Statistics Norway now distinguishes between assistance measures and care orders as provided for in the legislation, and whether the measure is function 251 or 252 according to the measure categories. The local authorities previously reported this themselves.

In 2010, employees in the Child Welfare Services were included in the general child welfare statistics. These were previously published separately http://www.ssb.no/barnevernp/.

Statistics on personnel in the social security offices, which are summary statistics, were first collected in 1984. It was not until 1991 that a distinction was made between the different categories of child welfare staff. In 1992, child welfare was distinguished as a separate service, and positions are now registered according to education, and converted to FTEs. In addition, figures on vacant positions were included as from 31 December 1992. In 2012, positions linked to functions were also reported explicitly in addition to positions in function 244, and in 2013, positions linked to function 252 were also included.

Information on organisation and cooperation was first published in 1993. Quality indicators for the Child Welfare Services were first published in 2006.

Users and applications

Users: Ministry of Children and Families, other ministries, Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir), Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, County Governor, county authorities and local authorities, research institutions, the media and students.

Applications: Public planning, research and studies, education and public debate.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

Not relevant

Legal authority

The reports are collected by Statistics Norway for the Ministry of Children and Families, under the provisions of the Act of 17 July 1992 No. 100 relating to Child Welfare Services section 2-3. Pursuant to the Act of 16 June 1989 No. 54 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway section 2-2, Statistics Norway shall use the reports in the preparation of official statistics.

EEA reference

Not relevant



Not relevant

Data sources and sampling

Not relevant

Collection of data, editing and estimations

KOSTRA form 15 Child Welfare, and a dataset explanation were used as a basis for data registration. The reporting deadline is 15 January the year following the statistical year. For local authorities with a child welfare programme, a file extraction is made, which is sent electronically to Statistics Norway. Until 2013, the local authorities that did not have such a programme submitted electronic forms from Statistics Norway’s website.

In return, the local authorities receive summary tables and error lists for submitted child welfare statistics. They then have to check whether the figures are correct, and report any errors in the submitted data to Statistics Norway. In 2013, the local authorities were asked to review the KOSTRA publications on 15 March and give Statistics Norway feedback on whether the figures were correct, and no error lists were sent out.

KOSTRA form 8 Personnel and organisation of the Child Welfare Services is submitted electronically from Statistics Norway’s website every year, with a deadline of 15 February.

In cases of inter-municipal cooperation, one file/form is to be submitted for each local authority.

The child welfare control program, which is available on Statistics Norway’s website, plays a key role in the regular control and audit routines for the statistics. The local authorities run the control program before submitting child welfare datasets to Statistics Norway, correcting as many errors as possible before submission. In 2013, most of the controls prevented the submission of file extractions and had to be corrected by the local authorities. After receiving a file, Statistics Norway also runs the control program. Preliminary tables with main figures and error lists are sent to the individual local authorities. The Child Welfare Services in the relevant local authority adds the correct information to the error list before returning it to Statistics Norway for revision and production of the figures.

Controls of data on employees are based on a comparison of the figures from the preceding year, and the local authorities are contacted if there are major discrepancies so that they can create or submit a new form where relevant.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


At municipality and district level, cells in the tables containing three or fewer units are suppressed prior to publishing.

Comparability over time and space

In the period 1980-1985, personal identification numbers were not used in the registration, which made it impossible to control for duplications. Figures from these years are therefore not fully comparable with the preceding and subsequent periods. The figures on children in care in 1992 are assumed to be too high because the 1992 statistics form was designed so that all placements were registered as care placements. There is a break in the 1993 series of new children with measures as a result of a new definition of new children.

In 2002, the child welfare form was changed to include more categories of measures.

A reorganisation in 2007 saw the introduction of more types of measures and information being collected. This means that the child welfare statistics from 2002-2006 are fully comparable.

The main figures for 2007 and subsequent years will be comparable with earlier years in relation to, for example, the number of children with measures, children with care orders, assistance measures, placements and investigations. Also in that year, more options for measure type and reporting body were added. There may therefore be a break in terms of the measure category ‘other measures’ and the category ‘other’ for the reporting body.

There was a further reorganisation in 2013, with the collection of notifications, more categories for content in the notification, minor changes in the categories of who submitted the notification, collection of all investigations – not just one per child, and more types of measures. This means that the child welfare statistics from 2007-2012 are fully comparable. The main figures for 2013 and subsequent years will be comparable with earlier years, i.e. the number of children with measures, children with care orders and assistance measures, the number of children under investigation. There is a break in the investigation cases, but the number of children subject to investigation will still be published.

There are no figures for employees in the municipal child welfare services during the period 1984-1990. In 1992, child welfare was distinguished as a separate service, and the registration of personnel has not changed markedly since then. As of 2012, employees in function 251 Child welfare measures when the child is not placed by the Child Welfare Services were included in form 8 in addition to employees in function 244 Child Welfare Services. This makes it difficult to compare the total number of employees because we assume that those in function 251 were also reported before 2012 by some local authorities. In 2013, employees in function 252 Child welfare measures when the child is placed by the Child Welfare Services were also included in form 8.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Not relevant


Not relevant