In a District Court in a rural area the judge adjourned to a later date an application from the Child and Family Agency (CFA) to discharge a care order for two children who had been in relative foster care with grandparents. The grandparents also applied to remove the guardianship order which had been previously made.
The court heard from the CFA solicitor that the grandparents had been awarded guardianship and the children were in a good and secure placement. The mother was deceased and the father resided in the UK. The grandparents could not be both guardians and foster carers, the CFA solicitor said.
The solicitor for the grandparents said two years ago, when a care order was granted, the CFA advised the grandparents to apply for guardianship and now they were saying it was inconsistent with a care order and the CFA was stepping back from the care order.
The CFA had brought the father back into the children’s lives, she said, and the grandparents had concerns that there might be difficulties with the father and his access, they were not comfortable dealing with him and wanted the support of the CFA. The solicitor said the father was of no fixed abode. The judge said the children could not be removed from the jurisdiction.
The grandparents’ solicitor told the court the foster carers’ motivation was not financial. She said foster carers could apply for enhanced guardianship rights for children on care orders.
The judge said he could be Machiavellian, and this was not a finding of fact, but he could ask the CFA, if the primary motivation [for remaining as foster carers] was financial, what the position would be if the grandparents discharged themselves of their responsibility. The CFA solicitor said he did not know the difference between the guardianship and foster carers’ allowance and in that situation alternative foster care would have to be found.
The judge said it was an important legal issue and he adjourned both applications for removal of guardianship and discharge of the care order for three months.