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Yes – under Article 26 of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (the Children Order) there is a requirement to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child, their parents or anyone else with parental responsibility or any other relevant person and to give due consideration to those wishes and feelings with regard to making a decision about that child’s welfare.
The Northern Irish legislation tends to mirror the Children Act 1989 of England and Wales. There are three categories -
• Informal – arrangements between parents and relative(s) with no involvement from social services;
• Voluntary accommodated – arrangements between parents and local authority (Articles 21 and 27 of the Children Order refer);
• Care Order – obtaining this Order requires an application to Court (Articles 27 and 50 of the Children Order refer).
Private fostering arrangements are similar to England and Wales (see the factsheet for England and Wales)
There is a suite of pro-formas available to facilitate the exchange/provision of information when a child or young person becomes looked after and for on-going review purposes.
The Children Order does not define ‘family’. The Children Order defines ‘authority foster parent’ as placing with a family, a relative of his or any other suitable person as defined by Article 27(3) of the Order.
Article 27(2)(a) of the Children Order permits placing a child with –
(i) a family;
(ii) a relative of his; or
(iii) any other suitable person.
A “relative” is defined in Article 2(2) of the Children Order as “in relation to a child, means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership), or step-parent”.
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