Foster parents granted enhanced rights with birth parents’ consent – 2023vol2#38

A judge in a rural town granted foster parents enhanced rights for a primary school aged child after she had received confirmation that consent had been given by both parents of the child.

Section 43A of the Child Care Act 1991 permits foster parents to apply for enhanced rights if they have cared for a child for five years or more. If granted it permits the foster parents to make decisions such as being able to consent to medical treatment or apply for a passport for the child. If foster parents intend to make this application, they must inform the parents of the child and the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

The foster mother and foster father of the child, along with their link foster worker, were present in court. The solicitor for the CFA was also in court and advised the judge the CFA had no objection to the application. The judge asked who was going to give evidence and the foster mother replied she would. The judge asked if the natural parents of the child had been informed and had consented to the application. The judge said that she had seen the written consent of the mother but there was no written consent of the father. The foster mother said the father had said that he had no objections.

The judge said that while she did not want to make things difficult, she had to have proof that the father had been informed of the application and that he had consented to it. The judge said that she would adjourn the matter until later in the morning to give the foster link worker or the foster parents time to contact the father.

The foster parents and the foster link worker returned to court just before lunchtime. The foster link worker said that she had spoken to the father, and he had given his consent to the application. The judge asked the foster link worker to give this evidence under oath. She reminded the foster link worker that it was an offence to lie under oath. The foster link worker confirmed she understood what the judge had said. She gave evidence that she had spoken with the father, and he had given his consent to the application.

The foster mother gave evidence that the child had lived with them since the child was six days old. They fostered three other children and had enhanced rights for those children. The child had been in their care for over five years. The child was doing well but did have some developmental difficulties. She said that she wanted enhanced rights to permit her to consent to any treatments or therapies that the child would need.

The judge said she was delighted to grant this order and hoped the foster parents understood that she needed proof the natural parents of the child consented to it. She said on behalf of the State she wanted to thank the foster parents for their work. She wished them and the child the absolute best.