Child Welfare Service will evaluate whether care of two children can be awarded to their uncle or not

Notwithstanding the agreement worked out last month between India and Norway, the Child Welfare Service in Stavanger has said it that will evaluate whether the care of Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya Bhattacharya (1), who have been placed in a Norwegian foster home, could be awarded to their uncle or not.

The evaluation would be done by this month-end or early March, a statement issued from the Stavanger Municipality said.

On January 25, Norway agreed to hand over the children to their uncle under an agreement worked out between India through its mission in Norway, the Municipality of Stavanger, the Child Welfare Service and Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya (parents of the children) represented by their lawyer.

If the Child Welfare Service concludes that the care of the children can be awarded to the uncle, the agreement will be put in place to ensure that their needs are met with when they return to India. This will also entail a clarification on financing the follow-up activities of the children in India, a statement issued by Gunnar Toresen, head of the Child Welfare Services, said. “We hope to clarify what follow-up measures can be implemented to safeguard the children's health by the middle of March.''

The final decision would be taken by the district court. Before anyone else can takeover the care of the children, the court must first revoke the order placing the children in the care of the public authorities. If the Child Welfare Service had the necessary information to be able to draw up a good follow-up arrangement, the case could be brought before the court by March-end, Mr. Toresen explained.

“We have had open, positive dialogue with the uncle. We have had meetings with him, we have observed the children in their day-care centre and have visited them in their foster home,'' Mr. Toresen said. The parents would have the opportunity to spend time with the children in accordance with the decision of the country's board for child and social welfare, he added.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Norwegian Embassy here said the Norwegian government appreciated India's close cooperation in the case involving the children. “We are informed by the Child Welfare Service that since the children were placed in care, they have lived together in the same foster care. The children are developing well in the foster family. The Child Welfare Service has engaged the services of a person whose cultural background is Indian in order to be able to cooperate as effectively as possible.''

The two toddlers have been in the foster home since May last after the Norwegian authorities found them emotionally disconnected from their mother. Norway had agreed to hand over the children to their uncle (father's brother) following the intervention of President Pratibha Patil.

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