d) Foster Carers

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20 November 2001.

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Clause 41 provides that foster carers who seek to adopt need to have had the child living with them for at least a year before making the application—but this condition may be waived if the court gives leave. By contrast, s.9 of the Children Act, even as amended by this Bill (clause 108), provides that foster carers may, with the leave of the court, apply for a residence order if the child has lived with them for one year—but they cannot even apply to the court for leave to make such an application within a shorter period unless the local authority agrees. By the provisions of clause 110 of this Bill, the same conditions apply to applications by local authority foster parents for special guardianship orders as to applications for residence orders. There clearly needs to be a consistent approach. Since the need to apply for the court's leave should provide sufficient restraint on unsuitable applications, it is suggested that the consent of the local authority to an application for leave under s.9(3) of the Children Act should be removed. This would provide the same framework for application for residence, special guardianship and adoption orders.