Inadequate cooperation in child services
A large conference on helping vulnerable children and adolescents took place in Tórshavn last Friday.
Titled ‘Kná børn – hvussu bera vit okkum rætt at – rættstundis’ (‘Strong children – how can do what’s best for them – before it’s too late’), the conference aimed to shed light on how public and private social institutions can help vulnerable children and their families.
Another objective was to identify deficiencies in the social system and what can be done to improve the relevant services and systems.
The main conclusion of the conference was that the Faroes have many institutions that help children and that most of them do a good job. But the cooperation between them could be much better, with the consequence that many children, adolescents and their families end up not receiving the help and support they need.
It was also pointed out that evaluation and inspection are in short supply in this area.
Although no clear plan emerged from the conference, Edvard Heen, the head of Faroese Social Services, said that an assessment report will be prepared after the conference. He added that one way to improve coordination in the social system would be to establish a so-called ‘family house’ where children, adolescents and their families are assigned a consultant who will provide continuous support and coordinate the required support across the various institutions.
Danish and Norwegian perspectives
Most of the conference speakers were Faroese professionals addressing local issues. But two foreign specialists, one Danish and one Norwegian, detailed how children and families in need of help are being supported in the two countries.
Danish professor in family affairs, Per Schultz Jørgensen, spoke about how we can help toughen up our children. His key message was that social workers should spend more time in the children’s homes, and that solutions should be based on the children’s abilities and ambitions rather than duties.
Norwegian social authorities are also experiencing difficulties with organising the efforts to help children, adolescents and their families. Margrethe Taule, who heads the social services in the Norwegian town of Trøndelag, spoke of a new project, which has been set up to boost the independence of youngsters and their families in the town.
Perhaps the most critical lecture was titled ‘Hvat gera vit ikki’ (‘What we are not doing’) in which three leading child and youth specialists offered their perspectives on the various obstacles in this field and how best to overcome them.
Translated by prosa.fo