Enhanced rights granted to foster parents who described child as part of their family – 2024vol1#36

A District Court judge in a rural town granted an application giving foster parents enhanced rights in respect of a foster child. The mother had indicated her consent to the Child and Family Agency (CFA) CFA social worker.

This was an application by foster parents for enhanced rights for a child who was primary school aged and had been with the family since he was five months old. Section 43a of the Child Care Act 1991 permits an application by foster parents who have cared for a child for longer than five years to apply for enhanced rights. These rights include the ability to sign documentation and consent to medical treatment.

The solicitor for the CFA fully supported the application for enhanced rights to the foster parents. He had been the CFA solicitor in court when they sought a full care order for this child seven years earlier.

The foster parents gave evidence that he was a great little boy who loved music, hurling, football and was full of energy. They said they had cared for him since he was five months old and he was part of the family.

The CFA said that they had served the mother with the papers of this application twice but on both occasions the papers had been returned. The social worker said that she had spoken to the mother and the mother had indicated to the social worker that she consented to the application. The judge said: “It is people like you that make the system work, I am going to risk it for a biscuit. I am satisfied the mother knew of the application and consented to it and I am very happy to grant these extended rights.”

The solicitor for the CFA said: “If I may, on behalf of the CFA, also fully thank these foster parents and recognise what they have done for this little boy. I moved this application for a care order all those years ago and when I think of those circumstances of where we were to where we are, it is such good news and these [foster] parents have done just a fantastic job, without them the system would fail.” He spoke directly to the foster parents to say thank you.

The judge granted the order for enhanced rights.