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Foster carers to be given more rights
[Posted: Mon 10/07/2006 www.irishhealth.com]
Foster parents who have had a child in their care for a continuous period of five years are to be given greater rights, including more say when it comes to the medical treatment of the child, it has been announced.
This follows the Cabinet's approval of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill, 2006.
According to the Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan, the purpose of the Bill is to give foster parents and relatives 'increased autonomy in the care of children or young people'.
"Such foster carers will have increased autonomy in consenting to medical examinations and treatment and to the issue of passports, as well as in day-to-day care issues, such as giving permission for children or young people to go on a school tour or attend a concert", Mr Lenihan explained.
He said that these are issues which have been causing difficulties for foster parents, and relatives, but particularly the children involved, as the process of getting consent often involves going to court, which can be time consuming.
Currently in Ireland, there are around 4,200 children in foster care. Over 1,500 of these have been in care for five years or more, although not all have been in the same placement for that period.
Apart from the benefits for children, Mr Lenihan said that the Health Service Executive (HSE) would also benefit in the long-term, as the number of court directions which have to be sought, will reduce significantly. This, he added, would free up social work resources to work with other families.
The Bill will be initiated by Minister Lenihan in Seanad Eireann in September, 2006.
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