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Starting Norway’s first five-year master’s programme in child welfare services

The programme is an answer to a prolonged debate and investigations in Norway about increased expertise requirements in child welfare services and the need for better qualifications for employees in child welfare services.

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INNOVATIVE: UiA starts Norway’s first five-year master’s programme in child welfare services with support from the Norwegian Parliament and the practical training field, among others. (Stock photo: Colorbox)

The new master’s education has been created by a unique collaboration between Kristiansand municipality, which has Norway’s largest child welfare service, and the University of Agder, with support from central cooperative bodies.

"This is great and a good day for both Norway and our region. The creation of a five-year master’s programme in child welfare services is a clear and important contribution to covering the need for raised expertise in child welfare services. It means a lot to the field and not least to all of us who work every day to give children and youth the security and childhood they deserve," Psychologist Gunnar Oland Åsen from the Division of children and youth’s mental health (Abup) at the Hospital of Southern Norway said.

Siri Merete Reisvaag Johannessen, Solveig Botnen Eide, Gunnar Oland Åsen, Sigrid Nordstoga og Heidi Salvesen, foto

IMPROVING CHILD WELFARE SERVICES: Adviser Siri Merete Reisvaag Johannessen from Kristiansand municipality, Professor Solveig Botnen Eide from the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Psychologist Gunnar Oland Åsen from Abup, Docent Sigrid Nordstoga from the Department of Sociology and Social Work and Heidi Salvesen, deputy head of Child Welfare Services in the Kristiansand region. All have played an important part in the development of the new programme.

Oland Åsen and around 30 representatives from the Child Welfare Services in the Kristiansand region, the leadership team at the University of Agder, the Norwegian Union of Social Educators and Social Workers (FO) and employees from UiA’s Department of Sociology and Social Work attended the celebration of the new five-year master’s programme. Up to 35 students will be able to attend the programme.

First in Norway

Heidi Salvesen, foto

LONG-AWAITED: Heidi Salvesen, deputy head of Child Welfare Services in the Kristiansand region, is very pleased with Norway now getting a five-year master’s programme in child welfare services. From the celebration on Friday.

"The need for a five-year study programme in child welfare services is obvious. We have also met a lot of goodwill during the planning. We are also very happy today about the fact that it became a five-year integrated programme. For a long time, we were unsure if we wanted to go for a 3+2 arrangement. But today we are happy that we decided upon the second option: a complete five-year integrated study programme – the first of its kind in Norway," Professor Sigrid Nordstoga said during the celebration.

Improving child welfare services in Southern Norway

Heidi Salvesen, deputy head of Child Welfare Services in the Kristiansand region which is the largest child welfare service in Norway, is very pleased with UiA and Norway now getting a five-year master’s programme in child welfare services.

"A five-year master’s programme will give the candidates a range and security in their expertise that we have never had. The fact that this is happening here in Southern Norway will also contribute to child welfare services in our own region being the best, for the best of the children and the youth that we work for. This is simply great," she said.

Norwegian Parliament supporting the study programme

Sigrid Nordstoga, foto

SOCIETAL ATTITUDES: Docent Sigrid Nordstoga talked about how important the development of societal attitudes is in a five-year vocational study programme at the celebration on Friday.

Behind the new study programme is a large investigation and planning work where, among others, UiA, Kristiansand municipality and child welfare service-related institutions and official bodies of the practical training field have played a part. Even the Norwegian Parliament have supported the creation of the programme with funding in the new government budget for 2019, despite not supporting it at first.

Development of societal attitudes is a central part

The primary goal of the study programme is to educate thoughtful, critical and ethically conscious child welfare service workers with a strong professional standing and the ability to help children, youth and their families in good and effective way.

"The students will be qualified to exercise their profession well. The personal development of societal attitudes is characteristic of the entire study programme. For this development, we have chosen five academic fields: legal knowledge, ethics, philosophy of science and method, psychology and welfare knowledge, child welfare service knowledge and professional development of societal attitudes. The five areas of knowledge represent important knowledge that the students will attain and learn to use for exercising their profession," Sigrid Nordstoga said.

Deltakere i lilletunstova, foto

MANY CONTRIBUTORS: From the celebration on Friday of the new five-year master’s programme in child welfare services that starts this year.