Earlier on Monday, Sweden’s opposition political parties announced they were preparing a proposal to ensure that children who were neglected while in foster care would receive compensation despite a recent government announcement that no funds would be forthcoming.
The initiative was backed by the Social Democrats, the Green Party and Left Party and has the support of the Sweden Democrats.
But later on Monday, Sweden’s minister for children and the elderly, Maria Larsson, announced that she planned to invite representatives from the three red-green opposition parties to talks about the issue of compensating children who were abused in Sweden’s foster care system.
“Issues like this shouldn’t become the object of political bickering because this is about people who have had it very tough. Therefore it’s good if we can find a broad agreement that satisfies the legal and rule of law aspects,” Larsson told the TT news agency.
The red-greens planned to propose to parliament that the government be tasked with developing a proposal for compensation to the victims of neglect.
Compensation should be based on the inquiry which is soon to be completed and whose proposals were published in a report last winter.
The three parties’ representatives in the Riksdag’s Social Services Committee said in a statement that the government’s decision means that these children will be let down once again.
The inquiry presented a proposal in February 2011 that foster children who had experienced neglect between the years 1920-1980 should be compensated with a payment of 250,000 kronor ($38,000) apiece.
“We request that the government returns with such a proposal,” said Lena Hallengren, the Social Democratic deputy chairperson on the Social Committee.
Hallengren was not persuaded by the government’s assessment that compensation was not deemed possible for reasons of legal consistency.
“Norway have managed to do it as well as Ireland,” she said.
“It has been known all along that you have to enforce limitations because it concerns compensation for mistreatment in the past. Once you have started this process, you can’t then just fail these children, now adults, all over again,” she said.
The Sweden Democrats responded on Monday that they would also like to see the individuals compensated.
“We think the decision is unacceptable and we will support the proposal. We will also allocate funds for it in our own budget,” said Per Ramborn of the Sweden Democrats.
Ramborn dismissed the government’s assertion that payments can’t be done in an orderly and legally consistent manner.
“It’s just an excuse,” he said.
Göran Johansson, who led the government’s inquiry into the neglect of foster children, is critical that the government opted to announced through the media that no compensation will be forthcoming.
Johansson expressed concern that the decision could prompt a psychological crisis for many of the victims.
“What happens to people who talk about what they have experienced perhaps for the first time in their lives? Well, you drag up old memories. It is an inherently risky venture which we have been engaged with for five years,” he said.
The inquiry is due to present its completed findings in a couple of weeks and is based on interviews with 866 people. The oldest were born in the 1920s and the youngest in the 1980s.
Despite Larsson’s about-face, there is no guarantee that the thousands of children who were mistreated in Swedish foster homes between 1920 and 1980 will receive any financial compensation.
“If they have a proposal that stands up to the rule of law, that is just and which means that no one feels disappointed, I would gladly listen to that proposal,” said Larsson.
She explained that the goal has always been to provide economic compensation to those who were abused.
“But this is an initial conversation. It’s too early to say whether it can take us all the way,” said Larsson.
Her hope is that talks with the opposition can take place this week.