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Foster care – information and tips

Are you considering foster care? What does it mean on a personal, legal and financial level? What are the types of foster care and how do you go about it if you want to become a foster parent? We have summarised all the facts and possible legal complications associated with fostering.

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7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

What is foster care?

It is one of the variants of foster family care. It is decided by the court and the foster parent has both the right and the duty to care for the child entrusted to him or her. To some extent, it replaces the role of the parents in ordinary matters. However, unlike an adoptive parent, he or she does not have parental responsibility or a maintenance obligation towards the child.

Tip: We have focused on the legal relations concerning adoption in our article.

When is foster care approached?

From the foster carer’s point of view, the main motivation is the desire to help a child who has no family of his or her own. Thanks to the foster family, the child will gain normal experiences and habits that institutional care cannot provide. From a legal point of view, foster care is in place if the child is not legally free, i.e. especially if the parents (we are talking here about parents who do not actually care for the child) exercise parental rights and do not agree to adoption. Another type of case is foster care provided by the child’s grandparents. Here, even if the child is legally free, adoption is not appropriate for various reasons, including age.

Are you dealing with a legal issue related to foster care?

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Tip: All forms of foster family care are clearly discussed in a separate article.

Forms of foster care

Depending on the duration, we distinguish between regular foster care and temporary foster care. While ordinary foster care is granted from a court order and its termination is linked to the child’s majority, transitional foster care is established (also by the court) in acute cases, for the period of necessity, for a maximum of 12 months.

Depending on the relationship of the foster parent to the child, we distinguish between kinship foster care (which can be provided, for example, by grandparents) and non-kinship foster care. They also differ in whether there is a need for prior training (this is not necessary for kinship care). According to statistics, the majority of foster families are kinship families.

Legal status of the foster carer

As indicated above, a foster parent does not become a foster parent in a legal sense, but only in a practical sense. He or she makes sure that the child does not starve, has something to eat and wear, and provides a suitable emotional environment for the child. However, he or she is not registered as a parent, there is no right to inheritance between him or her and the child and the legal relationship ceases to exist when the child reaches the age of majority at the latest.

If the foster parent and the child establish a good personal relationship, nothing prevents the continuation of their cohabitation, however, outside the framework of foster care. This is limited and defined by the foster care agreement, which gives the foster parents the support of the accompanying organisation.

The amount of the foster carer’s remuneration

Unlike adoption, fostering also involves the provision of a certain amount of money. This applies both to remuneration in the context of mediated foster care and to temporary fostering. The amount is officially due to one person, so in the case of spouses, only one of them is entitled to the reward. The amount of the foster carer’s remuneration is based on a multiple of the minimum wage (mediated foster care). Another benefit is the foster care allowance, which is granted in the case of non-mediated foster care (typically grandparental care) and is based on the minimum subsistence level, the number of children entrusted to the care of the foster carer and their state of health.

Since January 2022, an amendment has been in force which has adjusted the amount of remuneration for foster carers. While professional foster parents have received a raise from the state, others are often worse off. In economically difficult times, grandparents who care for their grandchildren, who often have no one else, have lost several thousand. However, according to the bill’s sponsors, as relatives they should be looking after the children anyway.

Statistically, grandparents are the largest foster group. Last year, for example, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs registered over 7 500 foster grandparents, approximately 2 400 other foster relatives, such as aunts, uncles or siblings, and just over 5 000 foster parents with no relationship to the child.

The situation can be helped by another allowance linked to fostering, the child needs allowance, which helps the State to cover the costs of caring for the child. This means, for example, buying clothes, shoes or personal needs.

The law also provides for recurrent and one-off maintenance allowances. These are intended for young adults who become independent and leave foster care.

What to do if I want to become a foster carer

You can start by contacting an organisation that provides foster carers with support and training. They will familiarise you with the whole process and if you want to join, you can also receive training from them afterwards. The administrative part of the process then starts with contacting the OSPOD – Department of Social Protection of Children at the municipal office of the municipality with extended jurisdiction according to your place of residence. You can discuss your motivation to become a foster parent with the social worker and she will answer any questions you may have. You will then complete an application for inclusion in the register of applicants.

The application must be accompanied by:

  • proof of citizenship or permanent residence in the Czech Republic
  • a copy of the criminal record
  • a medical report from the attending physician on the state of your health
  • information on economic and social circumstances

The OSPOD worker attaches her opinion to the application. If you have had any children in foster care in the past, a statement from the organisation with which you have concluded a Foster Care Agreement is also attached. The application then goes to the regional authority, which decides whether to register the person suitable to become a foster parent or temporary foster parent.

During the training process, prospective foster carers also undergo psychological tests, and it is also necessary to undergo training of a total duration of at least 48 hours, or 72 hours for applications for inclusion in the register for temporary foster care.

Assistance from a lawyer

Unfortunately, legal difficulties can sometimes arise while waiting to be matched with a suitable child or during the fostering process. For example, the situation may be complicated by inappropriate ways of exercising the rights of the birth parents or the need to obtain court approval for certain court decisions. Statistically, the highest number of foster carers is among the children’s biological grandparents, so disputes with the biological parents also mean disputes within their own family. It is always in the child’s best interests to resolve the whole matter smoothly and as quickly as possible. Sometimes you can come across the lay person’s view that having solicitors will just escalate the whole thing and it will be an unnecessary ‘legal battle’. But the opposite is true. An experienced family law professional acts primarily with the best interests of the child in mind and certainly does not intend to escalate the situation in any way. A consultation with him or her certainly doesn’t immediately mean some litigation, but can only help point you in the right direction and protect the rights of the child.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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