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INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune

The Child`s Right to Family Life and Stability in Foster Care

Alternative title: Barns rett til familieliv og stabilitet i fosterhjem

Awarded: NOK 1.9 mill.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has repeatedly found Norway to violate children's right to family life in foster care. A repeating argument from ECtHR is that Norway fails to strike a fair balance between the best interest of the child as a primary consideration and children’s right to family life. Stability, the child's access to a secure, stable, and nurturing environment, is an essential component in balancing these rights. In an attempt to help reconcile some of the differences between ECtHR and CPS practices, this study will explore ways in which children in foster care can experience family life and stability through human rights-based practices. The study will collect data on stability in foster care and human rights-based practices from research articles and available statistics, surveys and focus groups encompassing foster children, foster parents, birth parents, and caseworkers. The collected data will be analyzed with ENVIVO and STATA. Results from the analysis will help identify key indicators of rights-based foster care practices, mechanisms that promote the right to family life and stability in foster care, and promising interventions for rights-based foster care. These findings can aid in the development of rights-based practices in foster care and other welfare services in Norway and globally.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has repeatedly found Norway to violate children's right to family life in foster care. As a result, the Norwegian Child Protection Services (CPS) has come under intense criticism nationally and internationally. A repeating argument from ECtHR is that Norway prematurely sets parental rights aside, resulting from CPS's inadequate understanding of the right to family life. Parents and children alike are endowed with the right to family life, and CPS must protect these rights throughout foster care placements. That being said, CPS's primary obligation is to protect the child's best interests, wherein stability being the child's access to a secure, stable, and nurturing environment, is an essential component. Norway must reconcile the differences between ECtHR and CPS practices to balance the right to family life and stability in foster care placements. Despite the evident need for modernized practices, the call for researchers to guide a best practice approach that secures children's right to family life and stability remains unanswered. This project will explore how children in foster care can experience family life and stability through human rights-based practices. The study will apply a mixed-method research design. Data collection from relevant literature, register data, documents (e.g., policies), surveys, and focus groups encompassing foster children, foster parents, birth parents, and caseworkers will be synthesized and analyzed using the programs ENVIVO and STATA. The analyzed data will help identify key indicators of rights-based foster care practices, mechanisms that promote the right to family life and stability in foster care, and promising interventions for rights-based foster care. Combining these findings will aid in the development of rights-based practices in foster care and other welfare services.

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INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune