Stockholm: Childcare Agency

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In 1917 the Swedish Parliament created the so-called child laws:
• the law on illegitimate children
• the law on child marriages
• the law on “äkta börd” or legitimate descent
• the law on adoption

All of these laws were brand new and effective as of January 1, 1918. At the same time, a special regulation governing the activities of the “barnavårdsmannen” which is literally translated as “the man over childcare”. This municipal official (who could have been working as an employee or serving as a volunteer) made the arrangements for all the children born out of wedlock within his jurisdictional area. Beginning in 1940 a barnavårdsman could also be appointed to oversee the needs of a child whose parents divorced. In Stockholm, you can find the records kept by the barnavårdsman in the Child Welfare Agency Office (barnavårdsnämndens barnavårdsmannabyrå) and its archives.

Some of the major tasks for the barnavårdsman were to determine who the child’s father was and to oversee the distribution of child support. The documents associated to a specific case were gathered into a case file called a “barnavårdsmannaakt”. Over 100,000 case files were created during the years of the barnavård system (which were between 1918 and 1973.) The responsibility for these cases was turned over to the Central Board of Social / Social Welfare Board- Family Care Agency between 1975 and 1986. Between 1987 and 1996 they were turned over to the municipal Family Law Office. Starting in September 1997, the municipal Family Law Offices were decentralized to multiple city district committees.

During the years of the barnavård system (1918-1973) child support was mandatory until the child was 18 years old with some exceptions. A case could be closed before the child was 18 years old if it was felt that the need no longer existed, such as the child's parents had married, or if the child been adopted. Another reason could be that the mother stated her ability to provide for the child without state control or assistance. By the early 1970’s the process of social assistance for women who were not married was re-evaluated. By January 1, 1974 the responsibility for assistance was turned over to the offices of Child Welfare and later Social Boards.


Ploom, Lennart & Lind, Niklas. Släktforska i Stockholm: en Handbok Till Arkiven. Stockholm: Prisma i samarbete med Stockholm Stadsarkiv, 2005.