Legal Status of Foster Children

Foster Carers must make sure that they know the legal status of any foster child placed in their home.

 

The rights and responsibilities of their parents and the local authority will differ according to the legal status of the child.

 

Children will either be:

Accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act or

In Care on one of the following legal orders:

Police Protection Order (PPO)

Emergency Protection Order (EPO)

Interim Care Order (ICO)

Full Care Order (CO)

Section 20 – Accommodation

 

When children are accommodated their parent retains full ‘parental responsibility’ for them. This means amongst other things that they can remove the children from a foster home without permission from social services.

 

Foster carers must make sure that they know who has parental responsibility for accommodated children if only to know who has the legal right to remove them from the foster home.

 

Mothers always have parental responsibility.

 

Fathers who are married to their child’s mother have parental responsibility as do fathers who appear on the child’s birth certificate after January 2006 (Adoption and Children Act 2002).

 

Unmarried fathers and other people with whom the child lived prior to being accommodated may have acquired parental responsibility through the courts.

 

Although those people with parental responsibility have the legal right to remove children from the foster home, foster carers should discourage them from doing this in an unplanned way.

 

Foster carers must get immediate advice from their supervising social worker if anyone wants to remove a child from the foster home if this has not previously been agreed with the child’s social worker.

 

Although children are usually accommodated at the request of a person who has parental responsibility for them they can also be accommodated if their parents’ whereabouts are unknown or if nobody has parental responsibility for them. Young people over the age of sixteen can also ask to be accommodated in their own right.

 

 

 

Legal Orders which foster children may be subject to;

 

Emergency Protection Order

 

An order which gives the applicant (usually a social worker) the power to remove a child to a place of safety (such as a foster home) for a period of up to eight days. In certain circumstances this can be extended by a further week.

 

Parents and certain other people can challenge the EPO in court after 72 hours.

 

Whilst the Emergency Protection Order is in force the child cannot be removed from the foster home without the permission of the child’s local authority.

 

Foster carers should make sure that if they take a child on an EPO they are given a copy of the order.

 

Foster carers should find out what the child’s legal status becomes at the end of the order.

 

Police Protection Order

 

Much the same as an EPO except that it is set up by the police and cannot be extended beyond 72 hours.

 

Foster carers should be given a copy of the order.

 

Foster carers should find out what the child’s legal status becomes at the end of the order.

 

Interim Care Order

 

An order made by a court placing a child in the care of a local authority for a specified period of time usually a few weeks.

 

Anyone who had parental responsibility prior to the making of the order keeps it but shares responsibility with the local authority.

 

In practice this means that nobody should remove a child on an Interim Care Order from a foster home without the permission of the local authority social worker.

 

Full Care Order

 

A court order placing a child in the care of a local authority until the child reaches the age of 18 unless that order is ended by the court.

 

People who had parental responsibility prior to the making of the order share that responsibility with the local authority for the duration of the order.

 

Children on a full care order should not be removed from a foster home without the permission of their local authority social worker.

Last Update: January 6, 2019  

January 6, 2019   rich    Foster Care Handbook