Foster family care in the international context

Situations may arise in a child's life where the child cannot grow up in the care of their parents for various reasons. It is, therefore, essential that children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them are provided with the most appropriate possible solution, i.e., foster family care or adoption (more here). In practice, different cases may arise. A child finds themself without parental care in the Czech Republic, but the person of the potential caregiver, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, live abroad.

In such a case, there is a complication, because under Czech law, the foster parent or caregiver must have a residence in the Czech Republic. Therefore, strictly speaking, a child could not be placed in foster care or the care of another person abroad.

With regard to respect for the best interests of the child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in certain circumstances there are possibilities for placing a child in the care of a foster parent or carer living abroad (e.g. by a broader interpretation of a statutory provision, applying the law of the country of the prospective caregivers if it allows for the placement in the care of another person abroad or referring the case to a court other than the Czech one, i.e. the court in the place of residence of the potential carers).

The Office notes that the issue is rather complicated. It always depends on the country where the child should be entrusted, making it necessary to choose the legal regulation to proceed in the matter. These reasons may regulate the court's jurisdiction that should decide the case, the applicable law that should apply, or other conditions. Therefore, given the above, we always recommend that you consult your case with the employee of the Office responsible for the country in question.

The same procedure applies if the child is abroad and the potential carers are in the Czech Republic, in which case we again recommend that you consult with the official of the Office responsible for the country in question.

Relocation of the foster carer with the child abroad

Often situations arise where a child has been placed in foster care in the Czech Republic, but after some time, the foster parent decides to move with the child to a foreign country. Since the competent child protection authorities in the Czech Republic are obliged to monitor foster care regularly; they often turn to the Office with questions on how to deal with these situations.

First, changing the child's residence is one of the essential matters that foster parents cannot decide for themselves. They must have the consent of the parents or the court. By relocating abroad, the foster carer cannot fulfill, for example, the legal requirement to maintain and develop the relationship between the child and the parent.

By moving, foster parents also lose their entitlement to foster care benefits. The body of social and legal protection of children should notify the Labour Office, which pays the benefits.

Once a child has been relocated to a foreign country, it is essential to remember that the Czech Republic has no jurisdiction over the case. Therefore, the social and legal protection of children authority is not in a position to carry out regular control over the performance of foster care.

The Office can only inform the competent authority abroad that the foster parent has moved with the child to its territory and can request a social investigation without guaranteeing the outcome. The foreign competent authority may refuse the request and usually does so. Jurisdiction over the child is taken over by the State where the child has been relocated, and the Czech Republic no longer has any authority. We can summarize from the above that it is impossible to investigate the child's circumstances abroad through the Office regularly.