Enhanced Rights for Foster Parents

16th March 2016

Foster parents who can meet certain criteria are in a position to apply to the Local District Court for Guardianship Rights in respect of children that they have in foster care. There are a number of criteria to be met including obtaining consent from TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency. They must consent to an Application to be made to the District Court.

Prior to consent being obtained from TUSLA, there are a number of pre-conditions which must be met which are as follows:

1. The child has been under the care of the Foster Carer for a period of not less than 5 years;
2. The granting of the Order is in the child’s best interest;
3. The biological parents have been notified and have consented;
4. The child has been consulted to hear his or her views having regard to their age and maturity.

Without the benefit of this Order, foster parents have to go continually to TUSLA and obtain their consent for immunisation or treatments for the child, passport applications, travelling outside of Ireland or any significant change in the care arrangements. If the Court is satisfied that it is the child’s best interest to make the relevant Order, it brings a lot more normality to the daily lives of foster children.

Foster parents who obtain Guardianship rights could also at a later stage make a formal application for adoption. Unfortunately in many situations one or both of the natural parents do not wish to be involved in the life of the child. Of course that does not prevent cousins and grandparents participating in the life of the child, thereby building up a relationship forming part of a larger family group.

Foster parents throughout Ireland have now started to take up their Guardianship rights in relation to children placed in their care. This is a welcome development and brought on for the benefit of their child.

The Courts have discretion on any application for Guardianship rights before it to impose conditions or restrictions as to the extent of the authority that foster parents will obtain.

The law also provides that the Guardianship Order will cease to have effect in cases where the Care Order is discharged, if the child is removed from the foster parent’s custody by TUSLA and when the child reaches the age of 18 years of age.

The Guardianship Order gives assistance to foster parents in dealing with everyday lives of their foster children. The Irish Foster Care Association has been campaigning for Guardianship rights for foster parents for a long time. The implementation of this change will mark a significant improvement for children and parents who obtain such an Order and that is to be welcomed.

For further details, please contact – https://www.odwyersolicitors.ie/contact/