In early 2017 the Dublin District Court heard an application for increased rights for the foster parents of a 10 year old girl who was the subject of a Care Order till she reaches the age of majority. The application was supported by the child, the child’s mother and the foster social worker. One reason mentioned for the application was that the child travelled out of the jurisdiction on account of her hobby and did not like the fact that she needed to get social work approval every time to wished to leave the country.
The child’s father, who was in prison, was opposing the application. It was noted that under 43A of the Child Care Act 1991 to grant enhanced rights to foster carers in respect of a child in care under section 18, the duty on the Child and Family Agency (CFA) was only to notify the parent, not to secure their consent. The father, who was not present in court, did not have legal representation.
The judge noted that the father was entitled to his procedural right even when in prison and urged that measures be taken to support the father to obtain legal advice including through the prison Chaplin or Governor prior to the hearing of the application.