Foster parent wins injunction against local authority’s planned removal of child

In a brand new case, the High Court has granted an injunction to an adopter to prevent the local authority removing a child from her care.

The case – RCW v A Local Authority – concerned a child who was abandoned shortly after birth. She was taken into local authority care and then placed with the woman, referred to as ‘RCW’ in court documents.

The child quickly bonded with her new foster carer. In the words of Mr Justice Cobb:

“The placement appears on all accounts to have been an extremely successful one.”

Unfortunately RCW was diagnosed with a brain tumour early last month. Ten weeks after the initial placement, RCW became eligible to make a formal application for adoption, under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, but on the very same day she was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery.

As a result of the surgery, the woman lost her sight although it has not yet known whether or not the loss will be permanent. On the day that she was discharged from hospital, RCW was assessed by a social worker and shortly afterwards told that the child would be removed from her care.

RCW then applied for the injunction, doing so under section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998. This allows proceedings to be brought against public authorities that have acted, or plan to act, in ways defined as unlawful by the act.

RCW claimed, amongst other things, that she had not been involved in any of the decisions made by the local authority; that she had made proper arrangement for the child’s care; and that taking the child from her care would breach her – and the child’s – rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires respect for “private and family life”.

Describing the case as “unusual and troubling”, Mr Justice Cobb said the local authority had not given RCW a fair opportunity to address its concerns and said it had shown “shown a worrying lack of enquiry into the condition or the potential for good care offered by a visually impaired parent”.

Photo by USCPSC via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

A version of this column originally appeared in

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