Many municipalities falling short in their work with at-risk children
In half of municipalities studied, during the last two years it happened more than five times that investigations concerning children and youths have taken more than four months to complete. This indicates that many municipalities are in violation of the law, and long investigation times affect opportunities to provide good support to children. This was shown by Humana’s Barnbarometer 2014 (“the Children’s Barometer”), a study focusing on municipalities’ work with at-risk children and youths.
“Children who have been betrayed by adults around them must have rapid access to support from society,” says Annicka Lang, Therapy Director at Humana Individual & Family. “Our study indicates that poor collaboration between social services and other players is the main reason for why investigations into children’s issues are drawn out over time. We are now calling for better collaboration.”
Humana’s Barnbarometer study is based on a questionnaire focusing on 168 municipalities’ work with at-risk children and youths. The results show many instances in which social services around the country have a hard time meeting the rights of young people. In more than half of the municipalities, during the last two years it has happened more than five times that investigations concerning children and youths have taken more than four months to complete. Nearly three out of ten municipalities stated that this has happened more than eleven times. This may mean that a number of municipalities are in violation of the law and risk leading to a situation in which children obtain sub-standard support. The municipalities indicate that this is mainly due to poor collaboration with other parties, such as county councils.
High work load is also indicated as a key reason for why investigations are drawn out over time. Several responses indicate that social workers have an overburdened work situation. More than a fourth of respondents indicate that they have staff turnover of more than 20%, which suggests that at-risk children may be meeting several different social workers. Humana has listed six recommendations for how work with at-risk children can be improved. Among other things, the need for more structured collaboration with other players has been emphasised, while introduction of a child ombudsman could provide support for children in their contacts with social services.
“Society cannot afford to fall short in the work on supporting children in difficult situations,” comments Annicka Lang. “The challenges are many, but a key task is to improve collaboration between social services and other authorities. Support can be quickly improved through better cooperation.”
The Barnbarometer study has been created by Humana with expert support from Maskrosbarn and Rädda Barnens Ungdomsförbund. The study was carried out in June 2014 in the form of a questionnaire to persons in charge of individual and family care. The questionnaire consisted of 17 questions, and 168 municipalities participated.
For further information, please contact:
Annicka Lang, Therapy Director, Humana Individual & Family,
tel. +46-7+-255 18 25, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Dahlgren, Head of children’s rights issues, Maskrosbarn, tel. +46-76-899 88 58, email@example.com
Sara Thiringer, Chair, Rädda Barnens Ungdomsförbund, tel +46-70-652 97 28, firstname.lastname@example.org