Child welfare, equity and social inclusion

Research projects in the Child welfare, equity and social inclusion research group

Our current research projects involve child welfare related topics, and health- and welfare services from the perspectives of service users and service providers

Main content

PhD projects

Contact rights between Child and Parents After a Care Order Decision 

(2022-2026) Helle Karina Johansen

The research project " Contact rights between Child and Parents After a Care Order Decision" investigates Norway's recurring human rights violations in child welfare cases, particularly concerning premature determinations of long-term placements and their impact on biological parents' visitation rights. This has prompted reforms in the Norwegian child welfare system yet lacks empirical documentation. The project analyzes county board decisions from 2008, 2018, and 2021 using NVivo and the R-program. Collaborating with the BARN-NEMND project at the Center for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, this research aims to shed light on visitation issues in child welfare cases. The project's findings will be of national interest to policymakers, academics, and the public, providing insights into changes in visitation over time and the considerations involved.

Aftercare for young adults with a cross-cultural upbringing  

(2022-2026) Nawar Sayyad

I explore how aftercare in the child welfare functions for young adults with a cross-cultural upbringing. More specifically, I look at what kind of help is given to young adults, how useful the help is, what young adults themselves think is useful and important and to what degree they have participated in their aftercare-plan. The aim is to point out the needs and wants for this particular group in the CW and to develop knowledge-based recommendations for the practitioners from the perspective of young adults themselves. I am also facilitating participation from practitioners, young people and experts by experience.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights, and The European Court of Human Rights - International law and jurisprudence, and the Norwegian response 

(2021-2023) Trond Helland


Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

(2022-2025) Agatha Chronos

Prevent and Protect through Support (2PS) is an EU funded project (2022-2025) that brings prevention to the forefront aiming to prevent harm to children before it occurs. 2PS is offering a paradigm shift in the approach to tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) across Europe.

This project will lead to better understanding what leads to harmful behaviour, informing and educating people who fear they might offend against children about the support services and rehabilitation options they have and sharing the best practices for guidance, therapy and treatment methods with important stakeholders.

Current research projects

Drug Prevention

Associate professor Olin B. Oldeide

Drug Prevention is a interdisciplinary research project, where we combine the disciplines of pedagogy, child welfare and health promotion with drug prevention. In the project, researchers from the Department of Education and researchers from the Department of Health Promotion and Development (HEMIL) explore theoretical approaches to drug prevention work and local practices.

The work is inspired by the works of Foucault and uses a qualitative approach. In this project, we have examined the drug prevention discourses that characterize the social debate through discourse analysis of news reports. In the project we also have master's students assisting the project by interviewing teachers and social workers in Norwegian secondary schools to understand the practices of different professions in drug prevention work.

Youth perspective on outreach service

Associate professor Olin B. Oldeide

This is a research project in the wake of the doctoral project: Local drug prevention: From policy to practice. In collaboration with a master's student, we have carried out further focus groups with young people in contact with outreach services about their experiences with meeting different welfare services.

The research project aims to provide valuable insight into how young people experience the interaction between different welfare services to highlight the importance of coordinated services for vulnerable young people. The project has a health-promoting orientation and uses theories such as Salutogenesis, Positive Youth Development and Empowerment.

Protect and Prevent through Support (2PS)

Associate Professor Sara Jahnke

In October 2022, Protect and Prevent through Support (2PS) project kicked off and brought together 20 partners from 14 different countries to start working on the prevention of child sexual abuse. 2PS is a Horizon Europe funded project that brings prevention to the forefront so that harm to children is prevented before it occurs. 2PS is offering a paradigm shift in the approach to tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) across Europe. Together with leading global actors, we are committed to laying the foundations for new coherent modus operandi that complement the reactive approaches currently favoured, moving preventive actions to the forefront.

2PS ultimate goal is to protect children, and this can be achieved by addressing the support needs of people who fear they might offend against children, offering them alternative pathways. At the Department of Health Promotion and Development at UiB, Associate professor Sara Jahnke (work package leader) and PhD student Agatha Chronos contribute to 2PS by synthesizing prior research on the preventive and mental health needs of people who are sexually attracted to children and developing a web-based intervention to inform about treatment options for people who are sexually attracted to children.

HoMi Foster Home for children with a migration background

Associate professor Ragnhild Hollekim

The purpose of the project is to gain knowledge about what characterizes good foster care for children with a migration background. This is  a 4-year (2021 - 2024) project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The project is led by Professor Milfrid Tonheim, Western Norway University College and consists of three parts.

Part one is a policy analysis of laws / guidelines that regulate this field in a total of five countries.

In part two, we examine decision-making and matching in these cases in Norway and Sweden, and talk to contact persons (in focus groups) and young adults with ethnic minority backgrounds who have themselves grown up in foster homes.

In part three, we ask what it takes for foster children and foster parents to thrive together and what gives a feeling of "home". Here we interview both foster parents and foster children / young people in Norway and Sweden. Another PhD is now linked to the project, which among other will focus on parents' experiences in these matters.

The HoMi project will provide important knowledge about how "cultural continuity" is defined, experienced and practiced. We are concerned with belonging and home as complex processes, where the search for security, autonomy and recognition is central. How can policy and practice promote children and young people with a migration background their quality of life and participation when they are to be placed / live in a foster home?

Home and (dis)continuity: Foster care for children with migrant backgrounds (HoMi). Work package II

Associate professor Raquel Herreo Arias

HoMi explores how current arrangements impact on migrant children’s opportunities to participate and live well, while growing up in foster care and later in life. To achieve this objective, we will a) analyze policy documents in six European countries, b) explore professional practice in Norway and Sweden, and c) follow a group of children and their foster carers in Norway and Sweden for three years. I am working in working package II that explores the perspectives that child welfare workers have on the role of children’s cultural, ethnic, and religious background when children are matched with foster parents.

More about the project 

NORPA (Nordic Parenting)

Associate professor Raquel Herreo Arias

NORPA will arrange workshops-series in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden to advance interdisciplinary scientific knowledge on parenting in the Nordic countries. This will provide a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars and critical analysis of the nuances involved in Nordic parenting and how different Nordic welfare models and institutional discourses impinge on the lives of families. We focus on “non-normative” parenting and the gendered and heteronormative ideas that underpin the politics of Nordic parenting. The workshops are organized around specific themes: Institutional discourses and cultural context to parenting in the Nordic Countries; The politics of parenting; Imagining parenting in the future.

Strengthening foster homes

Project team: Anette Christine Iversen, Ragnhild Hollekim and Gaby Ortiz Barreda

Autumn 2021 - 

The purpose of the development project is to contribute to stable foster homes and in the long run prevent unintentional relocations. The development project started as a collaboration between several municipalities in Rogaland county in 2020 and is supported by the County Governor of Rogaland.

"A good start" is a structured scheme and consists of six meetings that contact persons will conduct with new foster homes. A good start is being tested in municipal child welfare services in Rogaland and Vestland.

The purpose of the research project is to investigate: the implementation of "A good start" contact persons and foster parents' experience of "A good start"

Method: focus group interview, individual interview and literature study.

Funding: The development project is supported by the State Administrator, the research project has no funding.

The child welfare service's meeting with high conflict cases 

Project leader: Anette Christine Iversen

Autumn 2020 -

In recent years, there has been a large increase in reports to the child welfare service regarding a high degree of conflict between parents. The cases fall under both the Children's Act and the Child Welfare Act, and families may need assistance from both family protection and child welfare. Both services find these issues challenging.

With the new child welfare reform, the municipalities have been given greater responsibility for measures and the County Governor of Vestland has established a learning network for the child welfare service to support development projects in municipal child welfare.

The "Vestlandsmodellen" (West Norway model) for investigating high-conflict cases in child welfare is one of the development projects that started in 2019. The purpose of the research project is to

  • Investigate the child welfare service's experience with high-conflict cases and
  • Carry out a process evaluation of the " Vestlandsmodellen" (West Norway model).

The project is carried out in collaboration with the Learning Network for the Child Welfare Services - County Governor of Vestland.

Method: focus group interview with contact persons in the child welfare service.

Funding: The development project is supported by the County Governor of Vestland, the research project has no funding.

Refugee Resilience

Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim

The project was established in 2016 as a cross-research group collaborative project in HEMIL. The research groups involved are WelDev and BLI. Later, the SIPA group also joined. The project is led by Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim.

Related to the project, a network of practitioners has been established with representatives from two municipalities (Bergen and Voss), the civil society sector (Red Cross, EMPO), other academic/research institutions such the University of Applied Sciences in Western Norway, South-East Norway University College and the Institute for Social Research. The international part of the network includes representatives from Stirling University (Scotland), Western Washington University (USA), University College London (UK) and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands)

In 2017 we conducted a pilot research project to establish how culture influences the ability of refugee children and youth to adapt to a new life in Norway. Building on the pilot study, we are now moving on to research young adult refugees’ transitions out of care and service frameworks into independent living. We have applied to the Norwegian Research Council for funding. 

Completed projects

List of completed PhD & research projects

Embracing both sides of the same coin: Work-related psychosocial risks and resources among child welfare workers.(2022). PhD-candidate Oyeniyi Samuel Olaniyan

Negotiating parenting culture, identity, and belonging. The experiences of Southern European parents raising their children in Norway.(2017-2021). PhD-candidate Raquel Herrero Arias

Raquel Herrero is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and anthropology and Masters in gender studies and social work with families and children. She is exploring how Southern European parents experience doing parenting in Norway. Her project seeks knowledge of how parents with immigrant background navigate the posible tensions between parenting practices, values and expectations that might come up when they encounter the Norwegian society and Welfare State system. Then, the study focuses on how Souther European parents negotiate, contest or develop new parenting practices when they do parenting in migrancy.The experiences of immigrant parents are thought to provide a frame to explore how individual and state’s responsibilities and authority are negotiated under transnational, individual, cultural, societal and structural levels.

This data has been collected through Focus Group Discussions and semi structured interviews with narrative approach with parents from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece. The main supervisor is Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim, Dept. of health promotion and development. The cosupervisors are Professors Haldis Haukanes, dep. of health promotion and development, and Associate Professor Åse Vagli, University of Stavanger. 

Navigating Prolonged Conflict: Subject positions and meaning constructions in postdivorce families. (2017-2021). PhD-candidate Jan Stokkebekk

Jan Stokkebekk is a Clinical Social Worker and Family Therapist with a professional master degree in Systemic Family Therapy (MFSP). He is a candidate in family therapy at Bergen and Vicinity Family Counselling Office and is affiliated to the research group Child welfare, Equality and Social Inclusion at the Depart.of health promotion and development. He is exploring separated household families with parents in high and long term conflict participating in family therapy. The aim of his PhD project is to gain knowledge about children’s and parents’ experience of living in a conflicted two household families and to contribute to increase the quality of services to children in high conflict households.  Empirical material will be generated through semi-structured interviews of children and parents before and after 6 months of therapy.

The research questions are: 1. How do children experience their well-being, coping and resiliency of living in two households with parents in high conflict, told from a child and parents perspective?, 2. How do parents in high conflict view their coping and contribution to child and family resilience?, 3. How do children and parent`s, in conflicted families, experience being in a family therapy setting aimed to promote well-being and family resilience. The main supervisor is Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of Health promotion and development. Co-supervisors are Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim, Dept. of Health Promotion and Development, and Professor Ottar Ness, from NTNU. 

Service Utilization and Quality of Life in Foster Youth (2016-2020). PhD-candidate Marit Larsen

Marit Larsen is a psychologist and PhD student at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare (RKBU-Vest), Uni Research Health. The aim of the research project is to investigate which factors that are related to a positive development and quality of life in youth in foster care. Further, we investigate the service utilization of youth in foster care and their foster families, and if that help is experienced as helpful and suitable for their needs. Extrastiftelsen and Uni Research Health finances the project.

The PhD project is a part of the research project “Youth in Foster care”, a five year follow up study financed by the Norwegian Research Council, with duration from 2016-2020. The study include foster youth between 11-17 years old, in southeast Norway. The data collection was completed in April 2017. Over 300 youth participated, in addition to the foster parent of 330 youths. The PhD project utilizes both longitudinal data and cross sectional data from the research project. Main supervisor and project leader is Stine Lehmann, Researcher II at RKBU-Vest, Uni Research Health. Co-supervisors are Ragnhild Bjørknes, Associate Professor, HEMIL- centre, The faculty of psychology, UiB; Trine Myrvold, Research Director, the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, HiOA; and Valborg Baste, Statistician, Uni Research Health.

Children at Risk and Mothering Networks in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Analyses of Socialization and Law-Abiding Practices in Public Early Childhood Intervention. (2019) PhD-candidate Andrea Margarita Baldomir

Children in low-income families, school competence and resilience (2010-2017). PhD-candidate Anja Johnsen 

Anja Johnsen is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development. She has worked as a child welfare officer and has a master degree in social work. Her doctoral project examines the relationship between child poverty, risk and protective factors and school competence. The main focus is on protective factors, which can be changed, within the Norwegian or Nordic context.

Her data is from the case-control panel study Children’s Living Conditions - the impact of family income (Sandbæk & Pedersen, 2010). The data collection was conducted by the Central Statistics Bureau of Norway. The case sample consists of 1600 children and their families who had incomes below the EU’s poverty line in 2000 (<60% of median), while the control sample consists of 300 children and their families who represent a cross section of all families in Norway. The main supervisor is Professor Anette Christine Iversen Dept. of health promotion and development. The co-supervisors are associate Professor Mona Sandbæk, University College of Oslo and Akershus, and Principal Researcher Stein Atle Lie, Uni Research.

Meeting places in Norwegian community mental health care: A participatory and community psychological inquiry. (2013-2017). PhD-candidate Lill Susann Ynnesdal Haugen

Lill Susann Y. Haugen is a psychologist with a degree in professional studies in psychology, and a PhD-candidate at the Dept. of psychosocial science. Her project aims to illuminate and explore community based meeting places (‘day centers’) for persons with mental health problems, from a community psychology perspective.

The project is conducted in collaboration with co-researchers who have experience based knowledge from using meeting places. We have carried out two independent sets of focus group interviews, four with service users and three with staff from various centers. The discussions were guided by the research questions: a) How do users account for how they, and their experiences, are met in meeting places? b) How do staff in meeting places account for how they meet users and their experiences? The project aspires to produce practically relevant knowledge and to stimulate further processes that can hopefully benefit persons who use meeting places. The main supervisor is Prof. Norman Anderssen, Dep. of psychosocial science. The co-supervisors are Prof. Marit Borg, Buskerud and Vestfold University College, and Prof. Tor-Johan Ekeland, Volda University College. Mental Health Norway, Bergen, and The Norwegian Association of Youth Mental Health, Bergen, support this project.

Detection of child maltreatment, the role of dental health personnel. – A national cross-sectional study among public dental health personnel in Norway(2014-2018). PhD-candidate Ingfrid Vaksdal Brattabø

A troublesome transition: Social reintegration of girl soldiers returning ‘home’». (2017). PhD-candidate Milfrid Tonheim

Multicultural dilemmas in child welfare: Parents’ and adolescents’ experiences (2013-2017). PhD-candidate Marte Knag Fylkesnes

Marte Knag Fylkesnes is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and a master degree in child welfare. Key issues in her PhD project are clients’ perspectives and multicultural dilemmas in child welfare.

She explored the experiences of parents and adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds, and her key research questions were: 1) How do adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds experience contact with child welfare services? 2) How do parents with ethnic minority backgrounds experience contact with child welfare services? 3) What is cultural sensitivity, from the perspective of service users with ethnic minority backgrounds? Empirical material will be generated through semi structured interviews. A central aim is to increase the body of knowledge in this field and contribute to increasing the quality of services rendered to ethnic minority children (help and protection).

The main supervisor was Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of health promotion and development. Co-supervisors were associate Professor Ragnhild Bjørknes, Dept. of health promotion and development, and Professor Lennart Nygren, Umeå University.

Children at Risk and Their Families: Socialization and Early Childhood Intervention in Developmental Contexts. Multilevel Analyses of Systems’ Change. (Submitted: 1.9.2017) PhD candidate Andrea Margarita Baldomir

Gay-related name-calling at school (2011-2015). PhD-candidate Hilde Slaatten

Hilde Slaatten has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master of Philosophy in Health Promotion (MPhil). She is currently working as a PhD candidate at the Institute for Psychosocial Science (ISP) on a project concerning adolescents’ use of gay-related name-calling such as the use of words like ‘gay’, ‘faggot’, ‘lezzie’ etc. The aim of her project is to explore different predictors of such name-calling, and the consequences of being called these names. Data from the HBSC study with pupils in grade 6, 8, 10 and first year upper secondary (n=5820) and a convenience sample of pupils in grade 9 (n=916) are being used in this project. Her main supervisor is Professor Norman Anderssen (ISP), and her co-supervisor is associate Professor Jørn Hetland, ISP.

Negotiating children and parenthood (2008-2015). Assistant Professor  Ragnhild Hollekim 

Ragnhild Hollekim is an assistant professor and a PhD-candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and a master degree in health promotion and health psychology. Based on an understanding that what it means to be a child and parenthood fluctuates and is influenced by time and cultural context, her PhD-project aimed to explore negotiations on and areas of tension concerning children and parenthood in two currently heavily debated and controversial empirical impact areas. Firstly, the Norwegian same-sex adoption rights debate and secondly, the Norwegian child protection services’ encounters with ethnic minority families.

Her empirical data is from a nation-wide study on Norwegian attitudes towards LGBT persons (2008) and selected news reports debating child protection services’ interventions in ethnic minority families. Professor Norman Anderssen, DPS, UiB is the principle supervisor, and Professor Agnes Andenæs, Department of psychology, University of Oslo, is co-supervisor.

Success factors for collaboration regarding children at risk (2014)

On 17 December 2014 Elisabeth Hesjedal defended her PhD thesis in a public examination according to the regulations of the Faculty of psychology, UiB. The thesis is written in Norwegian and is titled "Tverrprofesjonelt samarbeid mellom skule og barnevern: Kva kan støtte utsette barn og unge?".

Elisabeth Hesjedal was a PhD-candidate at the Department of Psychosocial science from 2010-2014. She is an associate professor at the Norwegian Teacher Academy (NLA) University College, in Special needs education. Her qualitative PhD project is on Successful inter-professional collaboration in multidisciplinary teams regarding children at risk. The focal point is inter-professional collaboration between primary and lower secondary schools and child welfare services. The central aim is to highlight facilitators for inter-professional collaboration between these two professional areas. Her main supervisor for the PhD project is Professor Hilde Hetland, Dept. of Psychosocial science; Co-supervisors are Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of health promotion and development, and associate Professor Hege H. Bye, Dept. of Psychosocial science.