The Court of Appeal has overturned a judge’s decision that a one-year-old child should be placed with a foster carer rather than his extended family abroad.
The child had dual British and Ghanaian nationality and heritage. His parents lived in England. His two siblings were being cared for by their maternal grandmother in England, but she was unable to look after him and he was placed in foster care.
The mother and grandmother proposed that he be cared for by family in Ghana, but the Children's Guardian proposed that he remain with his foster carer in England, under a special guardianship order.
The judge decided that the opportunity to develop the relationships with his siblings, grandmother and wider family in England through shared lived experienced tipped the balance in favour of a placement with the foster carer.
The local authority argued that the judge had failed to properly consider the child’s rights and whether placement outside his birth family was proportionate to his welfare needs.
The court ruled in favour of the authority and overturned the judge’s decision.
It accepted that the judge had acknowledged the powerful arguments in favour of the foster carer's claim, particularly the fact that it was the only way in which the child could grow up in the same country as his immediate family and benefit fully from his British heritage.
However, she did not show that she had sufficiently balanced those against the powerful arguments in favour of a placement with the Ghanaian family, notably the benefits of growing up embedded in his ethnic Ghanaian culture of origin, the opportunity to remain in touch with close family members by visiting, and the important feature that the placement had the support of a maternal family that had shown itself capable of making very satisfactory arrangements for the older two children.
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Case Citations:  EWCA Civ 2240RE A (A CHILD) (2018)CA (Civ Div) (Lewison LJ, Peter Jackson LJ, Newey LJ) 16/10/2018