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The Care of Young People (Special Provisions) Act (LVU)

Young people may be placed into care when they are under the age of criminal responsibility as well as when they are between the ages of 15 and 20. The LVU Act, however, is applied restrictively. It allows the municipal social services to apply to the administrative court for a compulsory care order if the care required by the youth in question cannot be provided (or where there is an assumption that this care cannot be provided) with the consent of the youth (if aged 15 or over) or the youth’s guardians (if the youth is below the age of 15).

Young people up to the age of 18 may be taken into care on the basis of Section 2 of the LVU Act, which states that:

“A decision on care shall be taken if there is a significant risk of harm to the child’s health or development as a result of physical or psychological abuse, improper exploitation, neglect or some other aspect of the home environment.” Lag (1990:52).

Thus, the principle objective associated with this section of the Act is the protection of the youth in question, and it is often used in relation to young children. In regard to offending behaviour, the use of this section of the LVU Act is therefore focused primarily on the prevention of future offending, rather than providing a response to offenses that have already been committed.

The LVU Act does, however, also provide an opportunity to place young people in compulsory care as a result of their own behaviour. This is specified in Section 3 of the Act:

“A decision on care shall also be taken if the child places his or her health or development at a significant risk of harm through the abuse of addictive substances, criminal activity or some other form of socially destructive behaviour” Lag (1990:52).

The Act also provides for the compulsory care of young people over the age of 15 following the completion of a youth care sentence imposed by the criminal justice system in accordance with Chapter 32, Section 5 of the Penal Code. It is possible for the local social welfare board (initially often the chairperson of the board) to issue a compulsory care order immediately in an acute situation and to then subsequently to apply to have the care order confirmed by a decision of the administrative court.

In regard to older youths, and particularly those who are taken into care on the basis of Section 3 of the LVU Act, this care is sometimes provided at a category of institutions labelled “special approved homes” (see later), which are administered by a government agency known as the National Board of Institutional Care. It is more common for the care to be provided in foster homes compared to HVB institutions or, in rare cases, in the child’s own home. Compulsory care for younger youths is commonly provided in foster homes.

A total of 6893 children and youths were placed in LVU care in Sweden in 2013, of whom 62 % were boys. A total of 2530 of these children and youth were subject to immediate care orders (Socialstyrelsen 2013:23). A total of 1.4 %> of all young people in Sweden aged under 20 were subject to LVU measures over the course of 2013. This proportion has not changed notably since 2005 (Socialstyrelsen 2013:25).

LVU care should be concluded as soon as there is no longer cause for compulsory care measures. Therefore, the length of such measures is not determined in advance. A reassessment of the compulsory care order is conducted every 6 months.

 
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