Fact check: What is Sweden's LVU and how does it work?

The Local Sweden
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Fact check: What is Sweden's LVU and how does it work?
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The Swedish Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act, known as LVU in Swedish, regulates how and when social services can take a child into care. Here are the situations in which it can be used.


According to the National Board of Health and Welfare, a decision to take a child into care under the LVU “must always be based on a significant risk of harm to the child’s health or development”.

This risk of harm can either be due to a “situation in the family home”, where “violence or some other form of abuse by the family is one example”, or it can be a risk of harm due to the child or young person’s own behaviour, such as “exposing themselves to danger or committing crimes”.

Additionally, the Board states that “a prerequisite of taking a child into care under the LVU is that it can be assumed – or the social services know – that the parents and the child are not in agreement that suggested measures proposed by the social services are necessary”, meaning that parents who decline voluntary measures are more likely to see their children taken into care.

It further states that “religion is not a reason for taking a child into care”, and that the social services take steps to ensure that “children taken into care retain contact with their roots, their language and their culture”, such as placing the child in a home in the child’s network, for example.

Finally, it adds that “the social services have a responsibility to care for the child in a way which promotes the child’s connection with their family and people who are important to the child, as well as contact with their home environment”.


If the social services deem it necessary to take a child into care, they can take the child into immediate care if the situation is urgent, after which courts will decide whether the child should stay in care or be returned to their family.

If the situation is less urgent, social services will apply to courts for approval prior to placing a child in a care home.

In 2020, 3,486 children were placed in compulsory care in Sweden.



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