The Local Authority had issued care proceedings in relation to a child “Joe” when he was 2 years old and the final hearing was delayed and did not take place until the child was 4 years old. By that time, the child had lived with his foster carer for 16 months and had formed a bond with them and considered them as his family.
At the final hearing, the first consideration was whether the child could be returned to the care of the mother. The court determined that, unfortunately, the mother was unable to meet the child’s needs. The court then went onto consider whether to approve the Local Authority’s care plan of adoption. The guardian supported the Local Authority’s care plan on the basis that adoption provided greater “certainty” and “permanence” than long term foster care. The parents sought for the child to remain in long term foster care with his existing foster carers.
The foster carer and her adult daughter attended court to give evidence to confirm their commitment to caring for the child long term and their concerns about the emotional impact on the child if he was removed from their care as he had a very clear identity as being part of their family as well as existing relationships with his parents.
The Judge was critical of the social worker and guardian for not properly considering the foster carer’s commitment to the child and the emotional impact on the child if he were to be removed from his foster care placement. The judge was clear that the child could achieve good outcomes being cared for by his existing foster carers and that the foster carers were fully prepared to support the child’s emotional needs long term to ensure he understood his family arrangements.
The court therefore made a final care order with an amended care plan for the child to remain with his existing foster carers.
The full case can be viewed here:
Maria Chainani is an associate in the family department specialising in representing parents, children and extended family members in care proceedings and private law children proceedings. Maria is contactable on 01268 240400 firstname.lastname@example.org