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Further developments in fostering case

Case Management order made

After intense interest and speculation in the media about the placement of a little girl, clarity as to the actual position in relation to a little girl's placement with foster parents emerged following a Case Management hearing which took place before HHJ Sapnara on 29th August.  The judge sat in private but granted permission for an anonymised version of the order to be published. To download the order from that hearing which was published on the Judiciary website click here

The order records that the child was removed from the mother's care and placed by social services with foster carers on an emergency basis in March 2017 as a result of the police exercising their powers of protection. There was no culturally matched foster placement available at the time. There was a temporary change of foster carer in the summer to enable the original foster carer to go on holiday.

Inter alia, the court order also records that:

• there is a complex history and background to this case and the mothers' care of the child,

• the mother had raised some concerns about the appropriateness of the placement on 27th June 2017, On 27th June 2017, the court directed the Local Authority to produce a statement to address the cultural appropriateness of the foster care placement. That statement was filed and that the allegations made against the foster carers is disputed by the local authority. 

• The child's Guardian has undertaken enquiries and visited the child in the foster carer's home and spoken to the child alone

• The child's Guardian has no concerns as to the child's welfare and she reported to the court that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer.

• The mother confirmed further concerns in respect of the foster carers at the Case Management hearing on 29 August and the judge directed a further statement from the Local Authority to address those concerns.

• The mother has at no stage applied to the court for a change of foster carer

• There has been a positive assessment of the grandmother as a Special Guardian which recommends her as a suitable carer.

• There has been supervised contact with the mother three times per week as well as telephone contact with the mother and grandmother

• On 15.08.17 the local authority proposed a change in its care plan to enable the child to be placed with the maternal grandmother on 29 August 2017. This placement was agreed by all of the parties.

The local authority proposed that the child remains in the care of the grandmother long term but this is opposed by the mother. The mother will continue to have supervised contact with the child. All necessary evidence has yet to be filed. The arrangements for where and with whom the child shall live and what contact she should have with other family members will be decided by the court at a later stage at a final hearing.  A number of detailed orders were made concerning miscellaneous matters and these are set out in the order.

HHJ Sapnara made it clear on the face of the order that the decision" to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.

Recent Media Coverage
On 29 August the Local Authority updated its response – click here for details and for its response to the Times article.

The Observer has reported that Sir Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo's who is joint head of the Government's review into fostering commented that, "It's such a great shame that so much anguish was caused and I would be desperately alarmed if it discourages people from all races to come forward to offer to foster," Narey said. "It would be disastrous if that happened."  For the full Observer report click here.

For a related Editorial in the Guardian dated 31 August 2017 click here.