Note from Community Family Care:
Advice on placement of looked after children across member states of the European Union for local authority children’s services
English local authorities are sometimes approached to seek their agreement to the placement of a child from a European Union member state in a children’s home, or with a foster carer, in their area. Though these cases are infrequent, there may though be a good deal of uncertainty about the role and responsibilities of the local authority regarding individual cases. This advice from the Department for Education has been produced to help local authorities understand their responsibilities.
This advice from the Department for Education has been produced to help local authorities understand their responsibilities under Article 56 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility (“Brussels IIA”).
English local authorities are sometimes approached (directly or through the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU)) to seek their agreement to the placement of a child from a European Union member state in a children’s home, or with a foster carer, in their area.
These cases are infrequent – perhaps twenty in England in 2011. There may though be a good deal of uncertainty about the role and responsibilities of the local authority regarding individual cases. A decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union in April 2012 has served to clarify what needs to happen in such cases.
Generally an English local authority will usually receive requests to agree a placement via ICACU (which is based in the Office of the Official Solicitor). The local authority, as “competent authority”, will be asked to give its consent to a placement being made.
The court in the relevant Member State cannot make a judgement placing a child until this has been received. It will not be the role of the local authority to re-examine the reasons for the proposed placement decision made in the other Member State.
There are, though, a number of factors which it can properly take into account, and in certain circumstances it would be reasonable to refuse consent. The local authority will then communicate the details of its decision to ICACU.
This non-statutory advice note is designed to help local authorities in England by describing the process that should be followed when dealing with requests, under Article 56 of the Brussels IIA Regulation, from authorities in other EU member states, to consent to placements of children in residential or foster care in their area, where such placement are not ones where the child requires detention or assessment and/or treatment of a mental disorder (“compulsory mental health placements”).1
Expiry/review dateIf, in future, there are changes to relevant European law this advice would be reviewed.
Who is this advice for?
- Local authorities with children’s services responsibilities