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Disabled 16 year-old to remain in foster care

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December 4, 2023

A Family Court judge has approved a local authority’s request to keep a disabled 16 year-old in care.

In Re S (a child with disabilities), the boy had impaired hearing, sight and speech in addition to an inability to walk unaided. He was “a wheelchair user most of the time” with “severe and complex needs”.

The boy, identified in the judgment under the pseudonym ‘James’, was “home-educated” after he finished primary school in 2010. A social worker for family managed to convince the parents to let him attend a local special school starting in January 2014, “where he immediately began to thrive”.

However, the social worker reported that the progress James was making at the school would not improve because the parents “were not working with the school and had not changed how they managed life for [him] at home”. She persuaded the parents to allow James to be placed with a foster family. He was also transferred to a special school closer to the foster family’s home.

In September 2014, the local authority launched proceedings for a care order, claiming neglect by the parents. Such an order would make James’ placement permanent. His parents opposed the action and sought James’ return to their care.

Sitting at the Family Court in Ipswich, Her Honour Judge Lynn Roberts cited a social worker’s report which claimed that the parents did not “recognise the child’s health needs and have not followed professional medical advice”. This included missing important medical appointments and not making changes to their home which would benefit James.

The judge ruled that James had suffered harm at the hands of his parents due to his medical needs being ignored. However, she added that she did not “for one moment consider that either parent has ever intended to do so”. She noted that the interests of the child had to come first and must not be swayed by the “sympathy I feel for two loving parents who desperately want their child home”.

Judge Roberts made the care order. This included several hours of contact between James and his parents per week.

To read the full judgment, click here.

Photo by Greg Bellis via Flickr

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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