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Demanding reorganisation of the state child welfare service - Document no. 3:6 (2007-2008)

Since the creation of the Regional Offices for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufetat), there has been a positive development in the state child welfare service. However, the investigation reveals that Bufetat has not carried out sufficiently good analyses of the need for various measures. ‘This means it is impossible for us to assess whether all children who need help receive adequate help,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo. The investigation also shows that the takeover by the state of the child welfare service and family welfare service was not well enough prepared and that the services have been underfunded for several years.
Published 4/28/2008 3:34 PM
Document no 3:6 (2007–2008) Riksrevisjonens virksomhetsanalyse av Bufetat (The Office of the Auditor General’s analysis of the activities of the Regional Offices for Children, Youth and Family Affairs) was submitted to the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, on 6 March 2008. The analysis was carried out as a result of the uncovering of a large number of weaknesses during the annual audit of Bufetat.

Since the creation of Bufetat, there has been a positive development in the state child welfare service. In line with the objective of the reorganisation, more children have been placed in foster homes and in home-based measures, while the use of child welfare institutions has been reduced. However, the investigation reveals that Bufetat has not carried out sufficiently good analyses of the need for various measures. It is difficult, therefore to assess whether its goal attainment has been good enough, and whether all children who need help receive adequate help.

The investigation shows that the Ministry of Children and Equality has not succeeded in securing a realistic budget for Bufetat, and additional allocations have been necessary every year since Bufetat was established in 2004. The Ministry expected rationalisation gains already during the first year of operation, but the reorganisation has taken longer than the Ministry expected. ‘This indicates that the taking over of the child welfare service by the state was not well enough prepared,’ says Mr Kosmo.

On the other hand, the investigation also shows that Bufetat can be run more efficiently. Utilisation of capacity in state child welfare institutions can be increased, and there is great variation in expenses between the institutions. There are also challenges relating to ensuring adequate quality at the best possible price when purchasing places in private institutions.

The investigation shows that Bufetat’s control can be improved in key areas. The establishment of management and control systems has largely been left to the regions, and insufficient steps have been taken to ensure cooperation and the exchange of experience between the five regions.

The Ministry of Children and Equality agrees with the Office of the Auditor General that Bufetat has been underfunded, but the Ministry believes that the budgetary framework for 2008 will be sufficient to solve the tasks facing the service. It also emphasises that the analysis submitted by the Office of the Auditor General will be useful to the Ministry in its future work.

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