By Magne Storedal
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The child protection case which is the main subject of the article – that of Ken Joar Olsen and Vibeke Morrissey and their daughter – has been described and discussed on several websites abroad and here. (See below)
This article originally appeared in Norwegian, on 25 May 2018, in Romerikes Blad HERE.
Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland. All rights remain with the author Mr Storedal.
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The resignation of CPS leader Arnfinn Heimstad on Wednesday augurs well for the process of developing a better Barnevern in the municipality of Lørenskog. The case which triggered his withdrawal – the child protection case against Ken Joar Olsen and Vibeke Morrissey – was deficient on very many levels. Romerikes Blad has in a series of articles given an account of the inadequate and criticisable casework in this CPS case.
The most criticisable aspect was the way the municipality went all the way in their employment of heavy means without attempting to help and support the parents when their daughter was taken into care on an emergency order in January 2015. In what followed, the municipality ignored information and suggestions from not less than eight experts who all found Ken and Vibeke to be competent parents. Parallel with the outcome in the Ken and Vibeke case, the courts have quashed three takings into care and returned the children to their parents. All after decisions made in Lørenskog. In sum these outcomes are so serious that it was natural for Heimstad to resign.
At the same time it is important to note that making heads roll in Lørenskog has never been the goal. Our primary aim has been to have the injustice to Ken and Vibeke’s daughter remedied, but also, of course, that against the parents. With the CPS and the municipality leadership being so restrictively against opening up for reconsideration and self-criticism, head municipal administrator Ragnar Christoffersen has taken matters in hand over the last weeks.
Necessary changes lie ahead. The Barnevern (CPS) case against Ken and Vibeke will face investigation internally and externally. At the same time, the case is before The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The case if far from over; a large sequel which must induce comprehensive learning and change in all of Barnevernet lies ahead. Irrespective of the outcome of such review, the municipality must urgently enter into a dialogue with all child expert personnel who had anything to do with Ken and Vibeke’s case. Between them they possess important proficiency and qualifications, urgently needed to be made use of by the municipality.
While Barnevernet is under fire in Lørenskog, another public service reaps well-deserved honour. Lørenskog’s low threshold ‘Preventive Psychological Health Service’ (Forebyggende psykisk helsetjeneste (FPH)), offering free and fast psychological help for Lørenskog’s citizens, has received the prize of the year for ‘innovation’ awarded by the Norwegian Society for Psychological Science. The service of FPH is monitored through research by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Added to the fact that the municipality has got this service up and running, it also works. People suffering from anxiety and depression have, according to the Institute of Public Health, obtained better life quality as soon as after 6 – 8 conversational sessions. With this expertise being present within the municipality, it is horrible that the two services did not cooperate in this concrete child protection case. Rather, according to FPH itself and the last two experts Anette Svendsen and Evelin Tjemsland, the CPS was active in Ken and Vibeke not getting necessary help after their daughter was taken into care. This is serious and must be checked up on thoroughly.
With the traumas in mind which Ken and Vibeke have gone through, it would probably have been timely if mayor Ragnhild Bergheim came up with an unreserved apology to the couple as well.
This is welcome and encouraging news in the struggle of families who have been devastated by the ungodly actions of the Norwegian Child Welfare Services (Barnevernet). I was not aware of this development and I would like to thank Professor Marianne Haslev Skånland for translating this article and sharing it with me. This is the first occasion involving a Norwegian CPS case, of which I’m aware, where the head of a CPS office has had to resign over the way several CPS cases have been handled by his office. Only God knows how many hundreds of parents in Norway have gotten the same type of treatment only to never have their children returned. This is certainly a step in the right direction but it is one case of so many that must be reviewed!
Here are a few of many articles published here and abroad about this family. To see all of the posts here, just type “Ken Olsen” into the search box on this blog.
Romerikes Blad, is a Norwegian newspaper published in Lillestrøm, covering especially districts east of Oslo. The Norwegian title was “Forløsende om ordfører Bergheim kom med en uforbeholden unnskyldning til paret”.
Magne Storedal is the paper’s chief editor.