Changing the system from within
Participants/introductions by: The Change Factory and the Pro’s; Tarja Pösö (Tampere University), Svanhild Alver (Bergenhus Barneverntjeneste). Moderator: Marit Skivenes (UiB).
Societies and states are at a crossroads in how children are to be treated, how their rights should be respected and protected. Children’s new position and the emphasis on their rights create tensions and challenge the traditional relationships between the family and the state, and the state’s and courts’ role towards its citizens. Individuals receiving services are raising their voices and demanding a place at the table where decisions concerning them are being made. In Norway, the experts by experience are attempting to change the system and the decision-making processes, and the Child Protection Professionals – Proffene – have made quite a splash in the Norwegian political and administrative system, bringing the perspectives of children in the child protection service into the public debates and on the political agenda. They are targeting the government from all angles. Groundbreaking in the Norwegian context, Proffene drafted an alternative child protection law in 2016, parallel to the government’s expert committee suggestion. How did they do it, and did it have any effect? What can the role of “experts by experience” be in such processes? How can children take action and lobby for change? Proffene have implemented several programs at the frontline of our public administration, and one of these is “My life – child protection” in which over 200 child protection agencies across Norway have signed up for making changes according to a child-centric work practice. The program is impressive in its design and its comprehensiveness, but does it work? How can child protection workers, under constant time pressure and with scarce recourses, change their way of working with children at risk? The Pro Bono group at UiB has studied the effects of My Life Child Protection, and together with the Pro’s and child welfare workers, this session will discuss how to make changes, and how to make them last.