The judge in a rural town granted a full care order for two teenage boys where both parents had died. They boys had significant special needs and had been in voluntary care with two different foster families.
The eldest boy, child A, had been in a voluntary care arrangement with the same foster family since he was four years old. He had significant needs which included a diagnosis of autism, foetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disability and a chromosomal abnormality. The second boy, child B, had a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had been in a voluntary care arrangement with another foster family since he was one year of age. The mother of the boys had died in 2017 and the father had recently died in 2022. No guardian ad litem (GAL) had been appointed.
Evidence of the social worker
The social worker said that the teenager boys had been in voluntary care for almost 11 years, with different foster families, however, neither boy had changed foster placements during this period. The mother had died in a road traffic accident in 2017 and the father had recently died. The social worker said that both foster families had been granted enhanced foster family rights on the consent of the parents some time earlier. A section 18 full care order was being sought to regularise the position of the boys and to give them and their respective foster families certainty and security for the future.
She said: “Despite his difficulties A was living his best life. He was asked if he wanted to speak to the judge and he had said no.” He wanted to stay with his foster family. He was doing well in school and in his community. He loved technology and sport. Aftercare planning will commence for him within the next 18 months.
Child B had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a mild intellectual disability but again was doing well in school and the wider community. Neither boy had contact with any members of their biological family. She said that the boys had access with each other because they were siblings but the quality of that access was not good. They both displayed difficulties and distress following access. A had started to say he did not want access with B. Neither boy had a strong bond with the other. She said access would be reviewed with the foster families four times per year.
She said she had spoken with the father of the boys before he died, and he expressed his wish that he wanted the boys to remain where they were. A did not appear unduly distressed or upset at his father’s death. However, B had had some outbursts where he could not control his tears but there had also been two deaths within his foster family. She said this dysregulation had been recognised and art therapy had been arranged as a method of expressing and exploring these feelings safely with an appropriate therapist.
The judge said this was a tragic case, these had been two good parents. They had recognised their own failings and put the needs of their boys before their own. She said the threshold for a section 18 order had been reached and made the order until the boys reached the age of 18. She specifically directed that work be done with the boys for their life story book and every assistance was to be given for this.