Written answers

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Child and Family Agency Remit

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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298. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her efforts to secure the fostering and adoption rights of grandparents with respect to their grandchildren; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3008/16]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Under the current provisions of the Child Care Act 1991, grandparents may foster their grandchildren.

In cases where parents are unable to provide an appropriate level of care and welfare for their children, they may agree to their children being taken into the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (the Agency) on a voluntary basis. Where the Agency has serious concerns for the care and welfare of a child, and where it is not suitable or the parent is not agreeable to a voluntary care arrangement, it may apply to the courts for a care order.

When a child cannot live with his or her parents either on a short or long-term basis, the Agency will, in the first instance, seek to place the child with a suitable relative - including a grandparent - or person known to the child. All foster carers, including relatives, undergo an assessment and training process to establish their suitability and competence. In making their decision about the relative becoming foster parent to the child, the Agency will decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Overall, of the approximately 6,400 children in State care, 93% are in a foster care placement. Of those children in foster care, almost one third are being fostered by relatives.

The decision to deem a person suitable and eligible to adopt is a matter for the Adoption Authority of Ireland and is taken against criteria outlined in Section 34 of the Adoption Act, 2010. These criteria include that an applicant or applicants be of good health and of an age so that he or she has a reasonable expectation of being capable throughout the child’s childhood of providing the necessary health, social, educational and other interventions for the child, and having financial means to support the child.

In order to get a declaration of eligibility and suitability to adopt, prospective adoptive parents should apply to Tusla for an assessment under Section 37 of the Adoption Act 2010. Grandparents may apply to be assessed and the special nature of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is acknowledged as part of the assessment process. The best interests of the child is the paramount concern in the adoption.

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