Young people and social workers’ experience of differences between child welfare services and social services


This article focuses on support in transition to adulthood for young people who have been in the child welfare system in Norway. By drawing upon interviews with young people and social workers in child welfare services and social services for adults, we explore differences between the support offered by these two services and how this support is experienced by the young people themselves.

The interviews are analysed using the theory of institutional logics as an analytical framework. Institutional logics guide the focus of attention to those who are subject to the logics. The findings are systematised in light of the issues that are given most attention in the social workers’ reasoning about aftercare. The foci of attention in child welfare and social services are compared to the experiences of the young people and how they perceived the support from the two services.

We point out the following three dimensions, which seem to capture differences in foci in the services and the young people’s experiences: (1) the extent to which care leavers were recognised as a distinct responsibility; (2) the extent to which the care leavers were perceived as young people or as young adults; and (3) which aim was seen as most relevant – independence or a gradual transition. The findings are discussed in light of legislation and the mandate of the services, thus pointing at different institutional logics.