The law and foster children

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The law and foster children

Occasionally we will take a look at certain aspects of the current legislation and guidance which relates to foster children. Hopefully, this general information will prove informative and helpful for anyone currently providing foster care for children or young people.

Legislation: This includes ‘The Children Act 1989’, ‘Children (Leaving Care) 2000’, ‘Adoption and Children Act 2002’, ‘Children and Adoption Act 2006’, ‘Children and Young Persons Act 2008’ and ‘Children and Families Act 2014’.

Looking at the first of these, The Children Act 1989, for England, sets out the main responsibilities and duties of the local authorities in relation to ‘looked after children’ and care leavers.

It also describes the powers that the local authorities have. This Act is still the main piece of legislation governing all the work with children and their families. It is useful for foster carers to be aware of the Act’s main principles – which are listed as follows:

  1. ‘The Welfare Principle’: specifically concerned with safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This includes protecting any child from abuse or harm: the child’s welfare should always be “the paramount” consideration for anyone who is dealing with a child.
  2. ‘Partnership’: the expectation is that all professionals involved in providing support and working on behalf of children and young people, should always work in partnership with their families. This also includes foster carers. Compulsory powers are only ever to be used, when this is better for a child than continuing working on a voluntary basis with that child’s family. Whenever possible, the main priority should always be to maintain contact between children and their families.

This landmark Act served to highlight the importance of a child’s family. Whenever it is possible, the expectation is that, ideally, children and young people should be raised within their own immediate, or extended families. This Act places particular emphasis on on finding out about and then respecting the wishes of the child/young person; and/or their parents when decisions need to be made about the future of that particular child or young person.

The key aspects of a child or young person’s background are always to be taken into account. This means that their racial origin, religion and cultural background need always to be considered. It is also highlighted in the Act, that should a child or young person have any disability, specific needs arising from this are to be taken into account when planning for the child or young person.

The definition of parental responsibility.

The Children Act of 1989 defines this as ‘the duties, rights and powers; as well as the authority and responsibility a parent has for a child/young person and their property’. It is recognised within the Act, that as children mature and get older, they will assume increasing amounts of responsibility for themselves. Crucially, parents never actually lose their responsibility for a child/young person – even when this is shared with the Social Services Department when the child/young person becomes subject to a Care Order. The only occasion when this is not the case, is when a particular child/young person is adopted.

Foster care for children: current terminology.

  1. ‘Looked after Children’: this term was introduced in the Children Act of 1989. Children and young people are considered to be ‘looked after’ if there is a Care Order (CO) applying to them. When this is the case, it means that the parental responsibility is shared by both the local authority, one or both of the child’s birth parents.
  1. ‘Accommodated’ children and young people: this particular term refers to the situation where children and young people are provided with accommodation by the local authority as a consequence of a voluntary agreement with parents, or other persons with parental responsibility. It is not usually the case that children and young people in this particular situation will be the subject of any court orders. Once young people are over the age of sixteen, they can themselves request to be accommodated without the agreement or consent of their parents. If it is in the best interests of a child/young person who is being accommodated to become the subject of a Care Order, the local authority can apply directly for this to the court.

Foster children and the legal position.

When children/ or young people find themselves placed in foster care, they become the responsibility of the particular local authority where they were living when placed in care. The local authority always retains the responsibility for them, even if they have a placement(s) organised through an independent fostering provider.

The implications for foster carers.

The arrangements that are made for a child or young person are voluntary.  They have to meet with the parent’s or parents’ agreement. If a child or young person is accommodated, all parental responsibilities are still retained by their parents. The parents have the right, at any time to remove their child or young person. If a birth parent (s) insist on removing a child or young person – without that being in any way a part of the child or young person’s Care Plan – foster carers may take reasonable steps to safeguard the child. This usually means immediately contacting their Supervising Social Worker (SSV) or Duty Officer. If they feel there is a reason – potential for a particular risk or emergency, foster carers also have the option of contacting the police. contact the police.

*In 2015, new regulations were brought in relating to the Children Act.  There may well be new regulations or amendment to the existing Acts following recent government inquiries – as well as recommendations that may result from the national fostering stocktake which is currently being conducted.

Foster carers! Check out our news stories

Pakistani foster carers supported by their foster child October 26th, 2017

Rebecca Brown – a white British, 18 year old has made her voice heard, to stand by her Pakistani Muslim foster carers. “I am part of the family” Rebecca said: she has lived with the Muslim family since the age of twelve (more)

Guidance and legislation around foster care

Foster care: guidance and legislation

Our ‘Rewards’ bonus scheme for fostering children explained.

At Rainbow we want to attract experienced foster carers so we are happy to pay a bonus of £500 if you are fostering and are in a position to refer someone to become a foster carer. Once the first placement has been made following your referral, we will pay you the bonus. Are you already an approved foster carer – with a long term foster placement – interested in transferring? We can make  transferring a smooth and easy process: if you join us, you may also qualify for a special bonus.

Rainbow want to know if you are thinking of becoming a foster carer

Whatever your faith, background, status or personal situation, we will be delighted to chat with you and help you join our team of fantastic foster carers – if we think fostering is right for you. You can talk to us about all sorts of subjects to do with fostering such as – how much do private fostering agencies pay foster carers? Can I foster if I am gay? What benefits can be claimed if I am a foster carer? Or how long does it take to become a foster carer?

And the good news at the end of this fostering Rainbow…one of our talented children has confirmed they will be performing at our Foster Care Awards this year as part of the entertainment.

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