The role and function of the spokesperson in care order proceedings: A cross-country study in Finland and Norway

Rosi Enroos (University of Tampere), Hege Helland (University of Bergen), Tarja Pösö (University of Tampere), Marit Skivenes (University of Bergen) and Milfrid Tonheim (University of Bergen) (2017)

Published in Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 74, 2017, pp- 8-16.

The article explores the spokesperson’s role and function when representing children in care order proceedings in Norway and Finland. The Norwegian and Finnish child welfare systems share many similarities in international comparisons – they both have a family-service approach with a strong recognition of children’s rights – but they have established quite different ways of representing children in care order proceedings via spokespersons. Based on the analysis of legislation and interviews with experienced spokespersons, we claim that the Norwegian spokesperson system represents the child’s voice perspective and the Finnish system both the child’s voice perspective and the child’s best interest perspective. Although both child welfare systems have high ambitions to involve children in care order proceedings, the role of the spokesperson still needs to be paid a lot of attention in order to meet those high ambitions.