Familie på flere måder
(Family from multiple angles)


How can we help more people to live enjoyable lives?

Children whose parents were placed outside the home run a significantly higher risk of being placed outside the home themselves. Despite a string of reforms and initiatives over the years, combined with the commitment and goodwill of the people who actually work with troubled families, we have still not succeeded in breaking the pattern across generations. The objective of the initiative was to identify new approaches to the work with troubled families – approaches that can help nudge the existing system in the right direction so that, together, we can succeed in breaking the pattern of social inheritance.


About the initiative

Becoming parents is a mind-bending experience. It’s a roller-coaster ride littered with love, fears and doubt. There are no courses we can take at school or at work to teach us how we, as parents, can ensure the well-being of our children and family. Instead, we are obliged to draw on experience from our own childhood and formative years, which naturally means that we risk repeating the same patterns we were otherwise hoping we could break.


Even though almost DKK 17 billion is invested annually in preventive work and in placing vulnerable children and young people outside the home in Denmark [1], children of parents who were previously placed outside the home themselves are ten times more likely than their peers to experience the same fate [2].


The challenge won’t go away

We do not believe that the challenge across generations can be ascribed purely to the individual families, and there is evidence to suggest that it is systemically established. There must be something in the way children and parents interact with one another in the system which makes it difficult to eradicate the challenge. This demands new solutions, new knowledge and a change in the way the parties affected are involved – both the families themselves and the people who interact with them in their everyday lives, within and outside the public service system.

Our starting point

We take a systematic approach to our work. We combine research, social innovation and practical knowledge about how the systems function today with knowledge about how the systems are perceived by the families they are intended to service. Our assignment is not to take a stance on whether more or fewer children should be placed outside the home. However, we are basing our approach on the hypothesis that children’s well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of the family as a whole, which is why we take the family as our starting point in our work to tackle the challenge.


The initiative examined possible new approaches in an attempt to carve out a future where more families can live enjoyable lives. We deep-dived into research and listened to people inside and outside the systems who know the challenges from personal experience. The objective was to identify systemic obstacles, to find room to exploit potential, and to present radical solutions that open up new opportunities to act and new development trajectories for families with children who have either been placed outside the home – or who are at risk of having this happen.

What’s next?


The project was completed in 2023 under the auspices of the ROCKWOOL Foundation.