New Forest East

EDUCATION – ACTIONS OF THE FAMILY COURT [115829] - 01 February 2022

EDUCATION – ACTIONS OF THE FAMILY COURT [115829] - 01 February 2022

Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to review the criteria applied by the Family Court system according to which an infant, fathered by a UK care-home employee on a woman admitted as an inpatient under section, will be sent to live in Africa, with the father's parents, while Police investigations continue into whether the care-home employee has committed a serious criminal offence in impregnating the mother in his care; whether he will examine the legal process according to which the relocation of an infant to a developing country, under such circumstances, is deemed to be preferable to directing that the child be brought up by (a) members of the mother's family or (b) adoptive parents in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.  [115829]

[Due for Answer on 4 February. Transferred from Justice to Education Department for Answer.]


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families (Will Quince): The Department for Education is responding given its responsibility for the policy and guidelines around local authority care proceedings. The department is unable to comment on any criminal matters.

Whilst the Department for Education cannot intervene in individual cases, this government wants every child to be in a stable, loving home that is right for them. The paramount consideration of the family court when making any decision is the child’s welfare.

On the points regarding the criteria applied by the family court system and the legal process in place, in all cases, a court will independently assess and carefully scrutinise all the evidence before any decision is made. Separate scrutiny by the child’s court appointed guardian will also be applied to ensure that the child’s interests and views are properly represented. Where local authorities are considering removing a child from their birth parents, it will consider all options available that are in the child’s best interest, including placing the child with other family members in England or abroad.

This government believes the best place for a child to thrive is with their family. However, after all options are explored and it is concluded that this is not in the child’s best interest, adoption can be considered. The court will consider all of the evidence before it, and where further information is needed to make a judgment about a child’s placement, they will instruct the local authority to explore this. The court will only make a judgment when it is satisfied that its decision is in the child’s best interest.