Q&A - How can I get my children back from long term foster care?

Q:  My two children were placed in long term foster care after Court proceedings finished in 2015. I have worked hard to turn my life around and address my issues with alcohol and drugs and I now want to have my children returned to me. What are my chances?

A: As a parent of children in care, if you believe that your situation has changed significantly and you have made improvements to your ability to parent your children, then you can apply to the court to discharge the care order and have your children returned to your care.  An application can only be made if more than 6 months have elapsed since the Court made the Care Order.

The Local Authority may also apply to Court to discharge Care Orders and this will be considered at the Looked After Children Reviews (LAC Reviews) which you are invited to attend in respect of your children, every 6 months.  LAC Reviews also look at the level of contact you are having with your children and consider whether contact should be increased. If you feel that contact is not progressing under the LAC process then you could make an application to the Court to increase contact.

Legal Aid is available for discharge applications and applications for contact to a child in care, so it would be advisable to contact a family law solicitor to find out if you qualify. If the Local Authority does not consider that a discharge application should be made, then, as a parent of the child, you may make an application to Court to discharge the Court Order. Six months must have elapsed since the Court made the Care Order and you must be able to demonstrate that you have made positive progress during that time and changed your life for the better.