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More child poverty – too few initiatives in the municipalities

​Many municipalities do too little to help children growing up in low-income families participate in social events.  – The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion should contribute to a strengthening of the municipalities’ work to enable poor children to participate in social life, says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 6/25/2014 11:00 AM

Document 3:11 (2013–2014) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of child poverty was presented to the Storting on 25 June 2014.

The audit shows that the percentage of children in low-income families increased from five to eight per cent in the period 2002 to 2012. This means that there were 78 000 poor children in Norway in 2012. The Storting has stated on several occasions that all children should be able to participate in important social events, as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

– This increase in the proportion of poor children has strengthened the need for good initiatives in the municipalities, says Foss.

Many municipalities have few measures to help poor children participate socially. They often know too little about which children might need extra help to participate socially, and how the measures should be organised to reach the target group.

– The Ministry should consider whether more knowledge of good solutions and methods might help the municipalities to reach more poor children, says Foss.

The audit also showed that state measures are not sufficiently coordinated.

– The use of state subsidy schemes should be better coordinated, says the Auditor General, who also advises more collaboration between directorates that have work and policy instruments aimed at vulnerable children and young people. – The collaboration of directorates like the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and the Directorate of Labour and Welfare is important for ensuring the best use of the expertise they each possess, says Foss.

Half of the children in low-income families have an immigrant background, and cultural expertise is therefore important in the municipalities’ work.

– The Directorate of Integration and Diversity serves as a centre of expertise for the municipalities, and this is a resource that both the Ministry and directorates with tasks in this field can make better use of in their efforts to combat child poverty, says Foss.

The audit also shows that many NAV offices know too little about children’s needs for economic support for leisure activities.

In her response to the Office of the Auditor General, the Minister states that the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs will be asked to contribute to a strengthening of the municipal work to establish more and better measures for poor children and young people. The Ministry will follow up the recommendation to coordinate and simplify the use of state subsidy schemes.

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