Becoming a foster carer
Foster carers look after children who cannot live with their parents, either temporarily or permanently. In principle, anyone who meets the requirements can be a foster carer.
Requirements for foster carers
Foster carers must be aged 21 or over. They must also take part in a preparation programme and obtain a declaration of no objection from the Child Protection Board. The foster care agency applies for the declaration with permission from the foster carer.
Responsibility for foster children
Unlike adoption, foster care is temporary. Foster carers do not have parental responsibility for foster children. That means they are not legally responsible for their care and upbringing. If the child has been taken into care under a voluntary care order, the parents or guardian retain responsibility. If a care order is imposed, responsibility transfers to the Youth Care Office or, in some cases, to the foster carer.
Foster carers’ rights
Foster carers have a number of rights, including the right to proper guidance from the foster care agency. They are also entitled to an expense allowance and care leave.
Expense allowance for foster carers
Foster carers may receive an allowance to cover the costs of caring for and bringing up foster children. The amount of the allowance is determined every year by the government, and depends on the age of the child. In some cases foster carers can apply for a supplementary allowance.
Removing a child from a foster family
In order to remove a child that has been with a foster family for a year or longer, the Youth Care Office must obtain the consent of the foster carers or a children’s judge. The foster carers have what is known as a blocking right.
This derives from the right to respect for one’s family life, which is set out in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. As a result a child cannot simply be removed from a foster family after a year.