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Legitimacy and Fallibility in Child Welfare Services

Research project on child welfare services in Norway, Finland, England and USA. The project was funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and ran from September 2012 to June 2017.


Main content

The aim of the project was to identify some decisive factors and mechanisms in different welfare state arrangements and child welfare systems that promote or hinder high quality decision-making in the best interest of children and families. 

Prof. Marit Skivenes from department of Administration and Organization Theory was the Principal Investigator. The project was funded by the Norwegian Research Council (VAM), including recruitment positions of one PhD grant and one Post Doc position, as well as external funding that the researchers in Finland, England and the U.S. apply for.

Project framework

The four involved countries all have public child welfare systems that are built on the principle of family preservation and the child’s best interest/welfare as standards in legislation concerning children. However, neither child welfare laws nor child welfare research provide clear answers for identifying when to intervene in a family, what services will help, and when the risk to a child is so great that one ought to remove the child from the care of her or his parent(s) (cf. Skivenes 2002, Pösö 2011, Archard 2003, Backe-Hansen 2001, Bartholet 1999, Parton 2006, Berrick 2009).

Our focus in this complex and multi-faceted area is to explore how decisions are made that are supposedly made in the child’s best interests, and we examine this cross-country by analysing decisions about care orders on the one hand, and policy reforms, political principles and tools for guiding decision making, on the other hand.

Project relevance

The importance and relevance of our research project can be summarized as follows:

  1. An analysis of the interaction between different settings (institutional, political and legal) and how they influence actual decision-making in the child welfare area yields new knowledge on strength and weaknesses in decision-making processes,
  2. A critical examination of the quality of decisions, gives us insight into potentials for improvements in the system, and
  3. To be able to evaluate successes and failures, and to understand why and how child welfare systems can provide children at risk with the necessary means to grow up as healthy individuals, it is important to analyse the explicit and implicit normative bases of different child welfare systems, especially their conception of the child’s best interest and what is valid knowledge.

The need for improved systems is urgent, because we know that the outcome for children in the child welfare system is not good, and the evidence for the correlations between childhood neglect and abuse and adult well-being is well-documented, e.g. in the Adverse Childhood Experiences studies.


Conference, Bergen, 2017

June 15th, our principal investigator Marit Skivenes is giving a lecture about "Nytenkende forskning på barns beste i barnevernet" [Innovative research on the best interest of the child in child protection services] at the conference "Kunnskapskommunen". The conference takes place at the University of Bergen. 

Seminar, Oslo, 2017

June 12th, principal investigator, Marit Skivenes, held the presentation "Medvirkning som sentralt for gode beslutningsprosesser" [Participation as key to good decision-making, in Norwegian] at the seminar "Oppstartssamling for fagpanel - gjennomgang av barnevernssaker" hosted by the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision.  

Conference, Dublin, 2017

June 7th, principal investigator, Marit Skivenes, held the presentation "International perspectives on children’s involvement in child protection court cases" together with dr. Jill Duerr Berrick amd dr. Jonathan Dickens at the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Dublin. June 5th, principal investigator was chair of the session "Child abuse and neglect (1): Family Life" at the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Dublin. 

Workshop, London, 2017

May 25th-30th, our research team organized a writer's workshop in London. 

Open seminar, Tampere, 2017

May 23rd, our research team hosted an open seminar at the University of Tampere (Finland). The scope of the seminar was how child protection care ords are made in Norway, England, Finland and California (US).  

Workshop, Kokkedal Slot, 2017

May 9th-10th, our research team and PhD-students organized a workshop at Kokkedal slot in Denmark.  

Authors' workshop, Oslo, 2017

March 22th-28th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended a workshop for the authors of the forthcoming book "Measuring Child Rights in Norway", in Oslo. 

Presenting at a seminar, Bergen, 2017

April 26th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended the seminar "Unaccompanied minors across boarders: Political and social questions regarding their protection: international view", at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation. 

Conference, Melilla, 2017

April 25th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes held a lecture at the conference "Unaccompanied minors across borders: Main social and political issues for their protection" in Melilla, Spain. The title of her lecture was "Discrimination of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors".  

Participation in panel debate, Bergen, 2017

April 3rd, principal investigator Marit Skivenes hosted the debate  "Are children subject to age discrimination?" in collaboration with Centre on Law and Social Transformation, at the House of Literature in Bergen. Included in the panel was professor David Archard, professor Claire Breen, professor Karl Harald Søvig and political advisor Andreas Borud. Moderator: Line Marie Sørsdal.  

The 4th Colloquium in the UNCRC-IP United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child Implementation Project, Bergen, 2017

April 4th-5th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes and Karl Harald Søvig hosted "The 4th Colloquium in the UNCRC-IP United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Implementation Project". The colloquium was invite-only and took place at Centre on Law and Social Transformation. The colloquium was funded by the Norwegian Research Council (VAM).  

PhD seminar, Berkely, 2017

February 23rd our PhD-students attended a seminar at UC Berkely arranged by the research team. 

Conference "International Child Welfare Symposium", Berkely, 2017

February 24th our research team hosted a conference at UC Berkely to feature the findings of the project. The conference is funded by the Peder Sather Centre for Advanced Study. The conference also payed tribute to professor Sven Hessle. 

Presentation, Bergen, 2017

January 31st, principal investigator Marit Skivenes held a presentation at a seminar about the Norwegian child protection system hosted by the Municipality of Bergen. The title of the presentation was "Is the Norwegian child protection system worse than other countries' child protection systems?" 

Nordic project meeting, Bergen, 2017

January 18th-20th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes hosted a seminar on care order processes in Scandinavia with researchers from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, in collaboration with Bergen University College. 

Law proposal seminar, Bergen, 2017

January 13th, the research team hosted an invite only seminar concerning the proposal of the 2017 Norwegian Children's Act in collaboration with Bergen University College. 

Launch of new book and the Child Rights Unit at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, Bergen, 2016

December 1stCentre on Law and Social Transformation hosted a book launch for the new book Child Welfare Removals by the State edited by Kenneth Burns, Taja Pösö og Marit Skivenes. We also launched a new research network Child Rights Unit affiliated with Centre on Law and Social Transformation. Meeting with the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, 2016

November 28th, the research team met with the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision to advise on an audit of 100 care orders made in the Norwegian child welfare services. 

Court observation in Madrid, 2016

November 13th to 16th principal investigator, Marit Skivenes, observed court care order proceedings in Madrid. 

Participation in debate, Bergen, 2016

November 3rd principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended a debate on "The Child's Best Interest" arranged by Studentersamfunnet Bergen. The debate took place at "Det akademiske kvarter" and can be seen here

Presentation at the seminar "International Perspectives On Violence", November 3rd, 2016 

November 3rd principal investigator Marit Skivenes held the presentation "Det norske barnevernets omdømme" (The reputation of the Norwegian Child Welfare System) at the seminar "Internasjonale perspektiv på vold" (International perspectives on violence) hosted by The Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) in collaboration with the Municipality of Bergen. 

PechaKucha event, October 27th, 2016

On October 26th, Marit Skivenes was been invited by the The Norwegian Association of Researchers (NAR) to attend their PechaKucha event in Bergen, together with 11 of the most prominent researchers in Norway. She held the presentation "Statlig overgrep eller vern av barn?" ('State abuse or protection of children'). The presentation was filmed and can be seen here . Due to its attention, the presentation was also published in one of Norway's biggest newspapers "Aftenposten". 

International week at Bergen University College, October 25th, 2016

On October 25th Marit Skivenes was invited to a breakfast seminar regarding international research cooperation. Skivenes talked about her experience as an international researcher and a principal investigator, as well as her experience with the European Research Council. The seminar took place at Bergen University College and was a part of their international week.

Participation in debate, September 21st, 2016

On October 21st Marit Skivenes, together with Karl Harald Søvig among others, attended a paneldiscussion on the legal protection of children at the event "Barns rettssikkerhet i møte med barnevernet" ('Children's legal rights in the face of child welfare') at the annual The Human Rights Week of Bergen (arranged by the Amnesty Student Bergen and the UN Students in Hordaland).

Authors workshop on Measuring Child Rights in Norway, October 20th and 21st, 2016 

October 20th and 21st Marit Skivenes, together with Karl Harald Søvig among others, attended an authors workshop on Measuring Child Rights in Norway organized by the Centre for Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen and CMI

Participation in debate, September 26nd, 2016

September 26nd principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended a debate on "The Conflict of the Child's Best Interest" as a part of the annual event "Research Days in Bergen". The debate took place at Litteraturhuset i Bergen, from 19:00 – 20:30.

Project researchers attended the XIV EUSARF  International Conference in Oviedo, 13-16th September 2016

From 13th to 16th, September 2016 the project researchers attended the XIV EUSARF (European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents) International Conference in Oviedo in Northern Spain.

Participation in dialogue session by Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, September 7th, 2016

September 7th, Marit Skivenes attended the event "Immigrants meet with Norwegian child welfare - protection or abuse?" arranged by the "Philosophical Polyclinic" (Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care) at Litteraturhuset in Bergen, from 19:00 - 21:00.

    eynote speech at the 8th Congress of the European Society on Family Relations (ESFR),  2016

    September 1st, principal investigator Marit Skivenes will attend the 8th Congress of the European Society on Family Relations (ESFR) "Changing Family Relations – Gender and Generations" in Dortmund, Germany, where she will hold the keynote speech "Welfare state systems and children´s interests- the impact of differences in child welfare, child protection and children´s rights regulations on decision making processes".

    Participation in dialogue session at the annual Bergen Exchanges on Law & Social Transformation week, 2016

    August 23rd, principal investigator Marit Skivenes, together with professor of law and member of project advisory board Karl Harald Søvig, attended the annual "Bergen Exchanges on Law & Social Transformation" week at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation and participated in a dialogue session on the topic "Measuring Child Rights in Norway".

    Lecture at the 7th Summer University in Social Work in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2016

    June 29th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended the 7th Summer University in Social Work «Life Course, Ethical Dilemmas and Social Work» in Lausanne, Switzerland with the lecture "Legal, institutional and ethical issues in child protection".

    Presentation for the Ministry of Children and Equality, Oslo, 2016

    June 10th, prinicipal investigator Marit Skivenes held a presentation at the Ministry of Children and Equality on the Norwegian Child Welfare Services in a national and international perspective. 

    Participation in debate, Bergen, 2016

    On May 3rd,  the organization Amnesty International Law Students in Bergen held a debate on the Norwegian child welfare services where prinicipal investigator Marit Skivenes together with Karl Harald Søvig, Professor at the Faculty of Law at UiB and a member of the project’s advisory board, the head of the child welfare services in Fana, Elisabeth Abelvik and Marius Reikerås attended the debate. The debate took place at Det Akademiske Kvarter, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

    Presentation at conference, Oslo, 2016

    April 28th, principal investigator Marit Skivenes held the presentation "Norsk barnevern – utvikling i et internasjonalt perspektiv" [Norwegian Child Welfare - development in an international perspective] at the conference "Barnevernkonferansen 2016 for Oslo og Akershus" [The Child Welfare Conference 2016 for Oslo and Akershus] held by the County Board in Oslo and Akershus. 

    Project seminar, Copenhagen, 2016

    April 14tto 17th the project researchers Tarja Pösö (Finland), Jonathan Dickens (England), Jill Duerr Berrick (USA) and Marit Skivenes (Norway) met for a 3-day project seminar to work on the court survey material and to discuss the finalization of the project at Kokkedal Slot outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. On Thursday 14th the researchers were accompanied by Anne-Dorthe Hestbæk from the Danish national Centre for Social Research. 

    Open meeting at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, 2016

    On April 6th principal investigator Marit Skivenes participated in an open meeting on the the best interest of the child in decision.making in child welfare at the event "Taking custody in the best interest of the child?" arranged by the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, together with Karl H. Søvig, Professor at the Faculty of Law at UiB and a member of the project’s advisory board. Here they presented and discussed findings from the project.

    Presentation at seminar at the University of Wisconsin,  2016

    March 4th project researcher Jill D. Berrick held a prestentation at a seminar at the  University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Social Work. The presentation was titled "The grass is always greener (or is it?): Reflections on international comparative child welfare". Powerpoint presentation can be found below.

    Meeting with Steering Commitee at the HESTIA research project, 2016

    On March 3rd principal investigator Marit Skivenes attended the HESTIA research projcet steering commitees meeting in Groeningen, Netherlands, where they discussed the results of the analysis of policies and responses to child abuse and neglect in the three involved countries (Germany, England and the Netherlands) in the HESTIA research procjet.

    Lecture at the Winter School - Youth, Society and Policy March 3rd, 2016

    On March 3rd Marit Skivenes held the lecture "Child welfare systems and children's participation - are some systems better than others?" at the Winter School - Youth, Society and Policy 2016 for undergraduate students, graduate students, postgraduate students (PhD students, Post Docs), researchers, policy makers and practitioners arranged by the University of Groeningen in the Netherlands.

    Presentation at "Kommunikasjonsfrukost" arranged by the University of Bergen February 24th, 2016

    On February 24th principal investigator Marit Skivenes held the presentation "Forskning i et minefelt: Barnevern og endring av policy" (Researsch in a minefield: Child Welfare and change of policy) at a open scientific meeting for employees at the University of Bergen. The "Kommunikasjonsfrukost" (Communication breakfast) meet is an event that takes place once or twice per semester and is arranged by the Communication Department at the University of Bergen.

    Video lecture held at Berkeley Family Policy seminar for Singapore delegates February 18th, 2016

    February 18th project researcher Jill D. Berrick held a video lecture for Singapore delegates at the Berkeley Family Policy Seminar. The presentation was titled "Reflections on international comparative child protection". Powerpoint presentation can be found below.

    Project meeting in London November 23rd-26th, 2015

    November 23rd-26th Marit Skivenes, Tarja Pösö and Katrin Kriz met in London for a three day project meeting on childrens participation in conjuction with the Childrens Commitee Report.

    Presentation at seminar held by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, 2015

    Desember 1st Marit Skivenes attended the seminar "Tillit og rettssikkerhet i barnevernet" ("Trust and the rule of law in the child welfare services") held by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion (Barne-, likestillings- og inkluderingsdepartementet). Skivenes' presentation addressed issues regarding challenges one faces in the child welfare services and how the child welfare sector can achieve trust among users. The conference took place at Thon Conference Universitetsgaten.

    See full program for more information about the seminar.

    Presentation at the "Barn og rettssikkerhet" conference November 13th, 2015

    November 13th 2015 Marit Skivenes attended the conference "Barn og rettssikkerhet" held by the County social welfare board, Hordaland og Sogn og Fjordane. Skivenes' presentation is titled "Kvalitet og legitimitet – et statsvitenskapelig blikk på fylkesnemndenes avgjørelse" and took place at the Grand Hotell Terminus in Bergen.

    See full program for more information about this conference.

    Project conference and workshop week in Bergen, October 7th-9th, 2015

    On October 7th to 9th the project hosted a 3-day event, combining work sessions and workshops for the senior researchers  and for the PhD-students connected to the project Wednesday and Friday, and an open user conference Thursday.

    The open user conference "Legitimacy and fallibility in child welfare decisions" was held Thursday 8th October with presentations from Marit Skivenes, Milfrid Tonheim, Karl Søvig, Tarja Pösö, Kenneth Burns, Jill Berrick and Jonathan Dickens, as well as a discussion between June Thoburn and Jonathan Dickens about the English child welfare system. The conference was fully booked and hosted 72 participants.

    Presentation at the Nordic Congress on Child Welfare, Åbo/Turku, Finland, August 26th - 28th, 2015

    Marit Skivenes and Tarja Pösö attended the Nordic Congress on Child Welfare in Åbo/Turku, Finland, and gave a plenary lecture early Friday morning at the Congress. The lecture took the form of a comparative presentation of decision-making in the Norwegian and Finnish child welfare systems. The presentation was titled: Cross-country perspectives on the Finnish and Norwegian child welfare: how are the good decisions made?

    Student and researcher paper workshop at Solstrand

    Under supervision of project researcher Milfrid Tonheim, some of the master students, two phd students and research assistant travelled to Solstrand outside Bergen for a two day paper seminar. The aim was to generate some fruitful discussions around each participants current article draft, discuss the article writing process from start to resubmission, and make time for individual paper writing sessions to inspire work through the summer break.

    Research visit from Morag McArthur (Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University)

    The research project was visited by Professor Morag McArthur, Monday April 20th, 2015. She worked with Marit on an adaptation of the social worker survey, and also gave a presentation to the research group on the Australian child protection system, and barriers and enablers in involving children in the child protection decision making process.

    Project participation and chairing at the BASPCAN Congress 2015, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and project meeting

    Members of the project traveled to Edinburg in April for participation, chairing and presentations at the BASPCAN 2015 Congress, focusing on "New Directions in Child Protection and Well-being". The project contributed with the following presentations, among others:

    Jonathan Dickens: "Out-of-Home Care and the Prevention of Abuse: The importance of Effective Care Planning and Review", symposium

    Line Sørsdal: "Discretion and the Use of Expert Opinion in Care Order Cases", free paper presentation

    Ida Juhasz: "Child welfare workers experiences of obstacles in care order case preparations", free paper presentation

    Jill Berrick, Jonathan Dickens, Tarja Pösö & Marit Skivenes: "International Perspectives on Social Work and Judicial Decision Making in Child Protection Cases", workshop

    Jonathan Dickens also chaired the "Kinship Care" free paper session.

    The senior researchers stayed on for 3 days after Congress, working on preliminary findings from the court survey, potential paper angles and future project plans.

    Senior researcher visit from Tarja Pösö (Tampere) and Katrin Kriz (Emmanuel College, Boston)

    Tarja and Katrin visited Bergen and the department from March 3rd to 6th, 2015. They worked with Marit on the future development of the survey material, and future research project plans. Katrin also gave a lecture to master students March 3rd, entitled "Research Methods: moving from data collection to analysis".

    Senior researcher visit from Tarja Pösö (Tampere) and Kenneth Burns (UCC)

    February 11th-13th 2015 the department and project were visited by professor Tarja Pösö from University Of Tampere, Finland, and professor Kenneth Burns from the University College Cork, Ireland. The two researchers worked together with Marit on assembling and completing an edited book draft on Socio-Legal Decision Making Models within 8 countries' child welfare systems. The book is to be published by Oxford University Press, as part of their International Policy Exchange Series.

    New court level survey out

    A new survey has been developed through the summer and fall, and was distributed in the start and middle of December 2014. This survey is adressed to judges and co-decision makers (in some cases expert members, some cases lay judges) in all four countries, aimed at understanding the assessments and decisions judges make in serious child protection cases at the court level. The data will be assembled and analysed in the start of 2015, and eventually presented in stientific publications. You can read more about the surveys we have developed here.

    Project meeting in Bergen, Norway, 5th- 7th of November 2014. 

    The project researchers Tarja Pösö (Finland), Jonathan Dickens (England), Jill Duerr Berrick (USA) and Marit Skivenes (Norway) met in Bergen for a 3-day project meeting. They worked together and presented paper progress and survey finalization, and the extended project members all met one afternoon for presentations of sub-projects and papers.

    Conference lecture by Marit Skivenes at the Collaborative Conference between the Higher Education Sector and the Child Welfare Sector 2014, Oslo, Norway. October 29th, 2014

    Marit Skivenes gave a talk on decision-making in child welfare and assessment demands at this years collaborative 2-day conference between the higher education institutions and the child welfare sector, hosted by the Norwegian Council for Higher Education and the Child Youth and Family Agency.

    Plenary lecture by Marit Skivenes at the Norwegian Congress on Child Welfare, Oslo, Norway. September 19th, 2014

    Marit Skivenes gave a plenary lecture at this year's Norwegian Congress on Child Welfare, focusing on efficiency in the Child Welfare Service and the needs of the child. The lecture bore the title "Norwegian child protection in an international perspective".

    Conference participation and chairing at EUSARF 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark. September 2nd-5th, 2014

    All four countries in the project were represented at the 13th International EUSARF conference in Copenhagen, by both solo presentations, joint presentations and comittee chairing. The project contributed with the following presentations:

    Berrick, J., Dickens, J., Pösö, T. & M. Skivenes:

    Decision-making in child protection care orders: A cross-country analysis of practice

    Skivenes, M. & J. Thoburn:

    Paths to permanence in England and Norway: evolving policy and the welfare state foundation Conference hosting and participation at ESF Exploratory Workshop on Socio-Legal Models of Care Order Proceedings in Europe, University College Cork, Ireland. August 19th-22nd, 2014

    Kenneth Burns, Tarja Pösö and Marit Skivenes convened the ESF Exploratory Workshop on Socio-Legal Models of Care Order Proceedings in Europe, at UCC in Cork, IrelandThe themes for the workshop were mapping of similarities and differences in  European child care proceeding models, the comparison of these, and service user participation and representation in child care proceedings. The participants were also able to engage in networking and creating plans for future collaboration. Among other contributions, Anne-Mette Magnussen and Marit Skivenes gave a presentation entitled "The arguments for best interests in care order cases through the Norwegian court system". There was also a meeting of the contributors to the comparative child care proceedings edited book (Kenneth Burns, Tarja Pösö and Marit Skivenes). A work group meeting also took place, where time was set off for convening of a working group to lead future networking, collaboration and inter-institutionalfunding applications.

    Conference talk by Marit Skivenes for the County Social Welfare Board Leaders of Norway, at Losby Gods, outside of Lillestrøm. June 3rd, 2014

    Title: The threshold for care orders - Norway compared to other countries.

    Conference talk by Marit Skivenes for the Child, Youth and Family Agency (Bufetat) in Tønsberg, Norway. May 8th, 2014.

    Title: Is the quality of decision-making in care orders and adoption in the child's best interest?

    Project meeting in London, England, April 22nd-25th, 2014The project researchers Tarja Pösö (Finland), Jonathan Dickens (England), Jill Duerr Berrick (USA) and Marit Skivenes (Norway) met up for a 3-day project meeting in London. The research team worked on papers and prgressed in developing a research design for the study of court decisions in child welfare.

    Workshop in Jerusalem, Israel, March 2nd-6th, 2014

    Professor Marit Skivenes participated in the Haruv Seminar on Decision Making in Child Welfare from an International Perspective, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, March 2-6 2014, with researchers from Spain, Portugal, Ireland, USA, Belgium, the Netherlands and Israel. In this seminar, discussions on decision making in cases of child abuse and neglect in an international perspective were examined, as well as discussions about future venues for a collaborative international study on decision making in child welfare.Presentation for the Adoption Committee by Professor Marit Skivenes. Bergen, February 12th, 2014

    Title: Adoptions in the Child Protection System.

    European colloquium on Socio-Legal Decision-Making Models in Child Protection in Bergen, Norway 30th- 31st January 2014

    The colloquium brought together researchers in the field of court decisions in child protection. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a network for researchers specifically examining socio-legal models of care orders proceedings for children and young people within court systems. The colloquium Convenors were Dr Kenneth Burns (University College Cork, Ireland), Professor Tarja Pöso (University of Tampere, Finland) and Professor Marit Skivenes (University of Bergen, Norway.) The other participants were Dr Karen Broadhurst (Manchester University, England), Professor Staffan Höjer (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Professor Stefan Schnurr (University of Applied Sciences and Arts North western Basel, Switzerland), PhD student Monika Haug (Kassel University, Germany), PhD student Line Sørsdal (University of Bergen, Norway), Dr Anne-Mette Magnussen (Bergen University College, Norway) and Professor Karl Søvig (University of Bergen, Norway).

    Grant from the European Science Foundation (ESF). 

    Professor Marit Skivenes, together with Professor Tarja Pösö, Tampere University (Finland) and Dr. Kenneth Burns, University College Cork (Ireland) have received funding for an ESF Exploratory Workshop titled: Socio-Legal Models Of Care Order Proceedings In Europe. The workshop includes researcher from 9 countries and will be held in August 2014.

    Project meeting in Bergen, Norway, 14th- 17th November 2013. 

    The project researchers Tarja Pösö (Finland), Sue Peckover (England), Jill Duerr Berrick (USA) and Marit Skivenes (Norway) met in Bergen for a project meeting. They worked together on new papers and with the development of a new cross-country survey.

    Visit by Professor June Thoburn from the University of East Anglia to the University of Bergen, 24th- 27th September 2013.

    June Thoburn and Marit Skivenes worked together for three days on the topic "permanency in the child protection system".

    Conference Key note speech: "13th ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect" in Dublin, Ireland,15th -18th September 2013.

    The theme of the conference was Protecting Children in a Changing World”. The delegates had the opportunity to discuss the current state of research and interventions on child abuse and neglect in Europe and internationally, and to discuss new challenges and emerging topics. The conference was organized by the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

    Presentation by Marit Skivenes:"Child orientation – a contested concept or a ´wicked problem?´"

    Conference talk: "13th ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect" in Dublin, Ireland,15th -18th September 2013.

    Marit Skivenes, Jill Berrick, Tarja Pösö and Sue Peckover presented their preliminary findings in the research project. Their ambition is to examine how four countries - England, Finland, Norway and USA - deal with and facilitate decisions about involuntary care orders.

    Presentation by Skivenes, Berrick, Pösö and Peckover: "Decision making in child welfare: A cross-country comparison"

    Visit by Professor Tarja Pösö from the University of Tampere (Finland) to the University of Bergen, 26th- 28th June 2013.

    Tarja Pösô and Marit Skivenes worked together on the topic "child centrism og children´s participation".

    Funding granted from the Peder Sather Center, June 2013

    Funding from the Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study is granted (June 2013) to the professors Jill Berrick and Marit Skivenes for comparative research on child welfare systems in USA, CA, and Norway. The funding will support the American research input in the main project "Legitimacy and fallibility in Child Welfare System". 

    Conference talk: “A better way to protect all children. The theory and practice of child protection systems” in New Delhi, India, 13th-16th November 2012.

    In November 2012 approximately 160 policy makers, academics, practitioners and other experts from around the globe met in New Delhi over 4 days to review and consolidate what has been learned so far about the development and reform of child protection systems, to look at new ideas and explore their relevance, and to outline an agenda for the future. UNICEF, Save the Children, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and World Vision co-hosted the conference.

    Presentation by Marit Skivenes:  “Child protection systems – Trends and orientations”

    Project meeting in Berkeley, CA, USA, October 30th-November 2nd 2012.

    This was the first project meeting, and it was held at UC Berkeley, School of Social Welfare, and included researchers from USA, England, Finland and Norway. First part was presentations by the researchers from the four involved countries, followed by discussion of research design for the comparisons.

    Conference talk: “Oppvekstkonferansen 2012” in Oslo, 24th October 2012.

    The main topic of the conference was the development of child welfare systems in an international perspective. The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs hosted the conferences.  

    Presentation by Marit Skivenes: “Adopsjon til barnets beste?”



    • Burns, Helland, Križ, Sánchez-Cabezudo, Skivenes & Strömpl. In preparations. "Population attitudes towards ‘mild’ corporal punishment and its reporting to the public child protection authorities: A comparative study of Austria, Estonia, Ireland, Norway and Spain"
    • Pösö, T. & M. Skivenes. In preparations. “A Child-centric orientation – conceptual elaborations.”
    • Bratteli, N. & M. Skivenes. In preparations. ”Frivillige plasseringer i barnevernet – skjult tvang eller et nødvendig tiltak?”
    • Skivenes, Marit & June Thoburn. In preparations. “Foster home or adoptions? A population study in four countries/states.”
    • Katrin Kriz, Tarja Pösö & Marit Skivenes. In preparations. “The Children´s committee and four states responses on children´s participation in child protection”
    • Kriz, K. & M. Skivenes. In preparations. “When does the child´s opinion matter a lot for child welfare workers decisions? A cross-country analysis of child welfare workers experiences”
    • Berrick, J., J. Dickens, T. Pösö & Skivenes, M. In preparations. Child welfare workers assessments of risk, consequences, and what to do – a cross-country vignette study.
    • Skivenes & Trygstad. In preparations. Whistleblowing and Politicians.


    Research network

    Related Research Groups

    Associated Projects

    Related Research Centers

    Researchers and advisory board


    • Professor Tarja Pösö, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tampere (Finland) tarja.poso@uta.fi

    Ph.D. candidates

    Master's students

    • Master's student Vilde Tøfte Øvstetun, Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen (Norway) Vilde.Ovstetun@student.uib.no

    • Master's student Marie Topaas Storm, Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen (Norway) Marie.Storm@student.uib.no

    Advisory board

    • Professor Neil Gilbert, Social Welfare at the School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley (USA)
    • Professor Joan Hollinger, Berkeley Law, UC Berkeley (USA)
    • Senior researcher Tarja Heino, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki (Finland)
    • Professor Judith Masson, School of Law, Bristol University (England)
    • Associate professor Siv Oltedal, Faculty of Social Science, University of Nordland (Norway)
    • Associate professor Jørgen Pedersen, Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen (Norway)
    • Professor Karl H. Søvig, Law School, University of Bergen (Norway)
    • Professor Nigel Parton, School of Human & Health Sciences, Huddersfield University (England
    • Researcher Sue Peckover, School of Human & Health Sciences, Huddersfield University (England)