Child Protection Act

Child Protection (Foster Care) Regulations 2002

[GN 206 of 2002 – 1 October 2002] [Section 21]

1. These regulations may be cited as the Child Protection (Foster Care) Regulations 2002.

2. In these regulations –

"Act" means the Child Protection Act;

"advisory committee" means Foster Care Advisory Committee set up under regulation 10;

"alternative placement" means a new place of safety to which a child is committed, following the variation of a committal order;

"certificate" means a certificate of registration issued under regulation 13;

"code of conduct" means the Code of Conduct set out in the First Schedule;

"Committal order" means an order made under section 8(3) of the Act;

"emergency protection order" means an order made under section 4 of the Act which requires a child to be removed or returned to a place of safety;

"foster home" means a foster parent or family;

"placement" –

(a) means a committal order; and

(b) includes -

(i) emergency protection order; and

(ii) an interim committal order;

"register" means the register referred to in regulation 15;

"visitor" means a licensed social worker who has been designated by the Permanent Secretary to monitor any placement.

3. No child shall be placed in a foster home unless the foster home is registered under these regulations.

PART I – DUTIES OF PERMANENT SECRETARY

4. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall be entrusted with the supervision of every placement.

(2) An application for the registration of a foster home shall be submitted to the Permanent Secretary.

(3) The Permanent Secretary may refer the application for consideration to the advisory committee.

(4) On receipt of the recommendations of the advisory committee, the
Permanent Secretary shall consider the application and may grant or refuse the application.

(5) For the purpose of granting the registration, the Permanent Secretary shall take into account –

(a) the number of children who may be accommodated; and

(b) the age range of the children.

5. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall keep –

(a) a record of the registered foster homes which shall be open to the public;

(b) a detailed case record for every child placed in foster care, containing the information specified in the Second Schedule;

(c) confidential and secret, subject to paragraph (2), the detailed case record of every child for a period of 20 years.

(2) A child placed in foster care or his biological parents may consult his personal detailed case record.

6. The Permanent Secretary shall –

(a) have all powers of supervision over the foster home, including the power to visit, assess, assist and guide the foster home;

(b) ensure that adequate training is given to the foster home and assistance and support is given to the biological parents;

(c) ensure that the registered foster home complies with the Act;

(d) ensure that the child's best interests prevails;

(e) interview the child before the placement;

(f) ensure that due consideration is given to the child's wishes and views;

(g) inform the Court and the probation officer of the child's wishes and views;

(h) arrange for after-care service to the child upon termination of the placement;

(i) inform the Ministére Public of any placement made and recommend that necessary action be initiated before the appropriate jurisdiction regarding the exercise of "autorité parentale";

(j) explain to the foster home all the duties and obligations that it has under these regulations, the Code of Conduct and related policy; and

(k) enter into a written agreement with the foster home regarding the placement before such placement is made, specifying that the foster home shall carry out the duties specified in the Code of Conduct.

7. Except in the case of an emergency protection order, the Permanent Secretary shall provide the foster home with all the information necessary for the care and welfare of the child, including –

(a) the reasons for the placement of the child in foster care;

(b) the child's personal history, religious persuasion, family, social and cultural background;

(c) the child's health history and state of health;

(d) the child's educational needs; and

(e) whenever appropriate, a psychological report on the child and his emotional needs.

8. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall assess the needs of the child and shall, if need be, arrange for the payment of a monthly allowance to the foster home to cater for the needs of the child and shall ensure that such payment is immediately and effectively made upon placement.

(2) When in presence of a report to the effect that such allowance has been mismanaged, the Permanent Secretary shall cause an enquiry to be made and shall take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

(3) The Permanent Secretary shall review the child's needs at regular intervals or at the request of a visitor or the foster home.

9. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall –

(a) receive all complaints, including complaints of sexual abuse or neglect of the child that may arise in the course of a placement from the foster home, the child, the biological parents or any interested person;

(b) carry out an enquiry into such complaints within the shortest possible delay and may refer the child for specialised care, including to a medical practitioner, dental surgeon or psychologist.

(2) All information gathered in the course of the enquiry shall be kept confidential.

(3) Where the enquiry or complaint reveals that the child is in imminent danger, the Permanent Secretary shall take the appropriate steps to remove the child immediately and to find an alternative placement.

(4) In the case of an alternative placement, the Permanent Secretary shall ensure that the monthly allowance is paid to the alternative foster home.

(5) The Permanent Secretary may within 72 hours apply to the District Magistrate for a variation of the order.

(6) The Permanent Secretary shall, upon request, assist and give necessary assistance, financial or otherwise, to the foster home in order to enable it to present its defence in any criminal or civil suit arising out of the child's acts and doings whilst in placement.

PART II – FOSTER CARE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

10. There shall, for the purposes of these regulations, be a Foster Care Advisory Committee.

11. (1) The advisory committee shall consist of –

(a) the Permanent Secretary or a Principal Assistant Secretary of the Ministry responsible for the subject of child development and welfare;

(b) a representative of the Prime Minister's Office;

(c) a representative of the Attorney-General's Office;

(d) a representative of the Ministry responsible for the subject of education;

(e) a representative of the Ministry responsible for the subject of health;

(f) a representative of the Ministry responsible for the subject of social security;

(g) a representative of the Commissioner of Police;

(h) a representative of the Probation Service;

(i) a representative of the National Children's Council; and

(j) a representative of the Mauritius Bar Association.

(2) At any meeting of the advisory committee, 6 members shall constitute a quorum.

(3) The Committee shall be chaired by the Permanent Secretary or his representative.

(4) The Committee shall meet at such time and place as the Chairperson may determine.

(5) Subject to this regulation, the Committee shall regulate its proceedings in such manner as it may determine.

[Reg. 11 amended by reg. 3 of GN 56 of 2005 w.e.f. 28 March 2005.]

12. The function of the Committee shall be to –

(a) formulate objectives, policies and priorities for the enhancement and further development of the foster care system;

(b) oversee processes, standards and products related to the development and implementation of a foster care system, including strategies for monitoring and assessment of the system;

(c) oversee evaluation of the foster care system and make recommendations to the Minister for improvements and changes;

(d) consider every application referred to it under regulation 4(2) and make recommendations to the Permanent Secretary.

PART III – REGISTRATION

13. (1) Every application for the registration of a foster home shall be made to the Permanent Secretary in the form set out in the Third Schedule.

(1A) An application under paragraph (1) may be made by –

(a) an unmarried person;

(b) a married person individually; or

(c) both spouses applying jointly.

(2) Any information given by the applicant for the purposes of registration shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed by the Permanent Secretary to any third party.

(3) The Permanent Secretary may, after having heard the applicant and caused an enquiry to be made, issue a certificate of registration or refuse to register the foster home.

(4) The decision shall be communicated to the applicant by registered post within a reasonable delay.

(5) The Permanent Secretary shall not issue a certificate unless he is satisfied that the applicant complies with the prescribed requirements.

[Reg. 13 amended by reg. 4 of GN 56 of 2005 w.e.f. 28 March 2005.]

14. (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a certificate issued under these regulations shall be valid for a period of 2 years and may be renewed on application for subsequent periods of 2 years.

(2) An application for renewal shall be granted where the foster home certifies to the satisfaction of the Permanent Secretary that it still complies with the standards prescribed in the Code of Conduct.

(3) Where a registered foster home ceases to meet the standards prescribed in the Code of Conduct, the Permanent Secretary may –

(a) give the foster home a delay not exceeding 3 months within which to comply with the requirements specified by the Permanent Secretary, failing which the certificate shall be revoked;

(b) after giving the foster home a hearing, suspend or revoke the certificate.

15. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall keep a register of foster homes which shall include a list of the foster homes whose certificates have been revoked, suspended or not renewed.

(2) Such register shall be open to public consultation.

(3) A foster home whose certificate has been revoked or cancelled, may not apply for a fresh registration within one year of the revocation or cancellation.

16. Where a certificate has been refused, revoked or cancelled, the applicant may appeal in the form set out in the Fourth Schedule to the Minister in writing within 21 days from the date on which he has been notified of the refusal, revocation or cancellation, as the case may be.

17. Any material change in the personal circumstances or otherwise of the foster home shall be communicated to the Permanent Secretary as soon as it occurs and not later than one month after its occurrence.

18. (1) Any registered foster home may apply in writing to the Permanent Secretary to be removed from the register, either temporarily or permanently.

(2) The decision of the Permanent Secretary shall be communicated to the applicant not later than 30 days from the date of the application, and the register shall be amended accordingly.

19. In the case of a revocation, suspension or cancellation of a certificate or of a removal of any foster home from the register, the Permanent Secretary shall apply forthwith for a variation of the committal order to the relevant Court for the alternative placement of any child under the applicant's care.

PART IV – PLACEMENT

20. Before any placement is made, the Permanent Secretary shall ensure that the foster home where it is proposed to place the child complies with the conditions for registration.

Sub-Part A - Placement Under Emergency Placement Order

21. Where a child is the subject of more than one emergency protection order, he shall be placed, as far as is practicable, in the same foster home, where they occur within a period not exceeding one year.

22. Where a child has been placed in a foster home pursuant to an interim committal order under section 8(2)(a) of the Act and no committal order is made under section 8(3) of the Act, the foster home shall return the child to the Court at such time as may be determined by the Court.

Sub-Part B - Placement Under Committal Order

23. Where the Permanent Secretary has made an application under section 8(1) of the Act and is of the opinion that it is in the interests of the child to be placed in a foster home, he –

(a) may make recommendations regarding the duration of the placement and the preferred registered foster home, taking into account the child's best interests and, in particular, the desirability of keeping siblings in the same foster home;

(b) shall inform the Court as to whether there is any relative of the child who is willing to take charge of the child;

(c) shall ascertain that the preferred foster home is appraised of and agrees with, the individual plan in respect of the child.

24. (1) The Permanent Secretary shall effect regular reviews at intervals of not more than one month to ensure that the foster home and its household continue to suit the child's best interests.

(2) Where it appears that the requirements imposed are no longer suitable, the Permanent Secretary may grant a delay to comply with the requirements or apply for a variation order.

(3) Prior notice of the Permanent Secretary's decision shall be given to the foster home.

25. The placement may be terminated where –

(a) it appears to the Permanent Secretary that it is not in the child's best interests to remain in placement;

(b) the child is adopted;

(c) the child becomes emancipated by marriage;

(d) the placement order lapses; or

(e) the child dies.

26. (1) One or both parents may request the Permanent Secretary to place his or their child in foster care where he or they consider that –

(a) neither parent is capable of caring for the child; and

(b) the placement is in the best interests of the child.

(2) Where a request under paragraph (1) has been complied with, the parents shall enter into a written agreement with the Permanent Secretary which shall, inter alia, set out the duration and the conditions of such placement.

27. The Permanent Secretary may delegate any one of his powers under these regulations to an officer or authority who shall furnish a written report to the Permanent Secretary every 6 months which shall be communicated to the advisory committee.

28. The Permanent Secretary or any person to whom any of his powers have been delegated shall not be personally liable for any act or decision taken in good faith in the exercise of the powers vested in them by these regulations.

29. A foster parent who, before the commencement of these regulations, was operating under the aegis of an agency or non-governmental organisation which is a member of the National Children's Council, may continue to operate without being registered under these regulations –

(a) during the period of 6 months beginning with that date; or

(b) where, within that period, an application is made for registration, until that application is finally disposed of or withdrawn.

30. Any person who contravenes these regulations shall commit an offence, and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 5,000 rupees and to imprisonment not exceeding one year.

31.

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FIRST SCHEDULE

[Regulation 2]

CODE OF CONDUCT

This Code of Conduct shall apply to all registered foster home. Any reference therein to a foster parent shall apply without any distinction to the need of family in a foster family, and the manager of a Group foster home.

1. A foster parent shall ensure that there is no discrimination in respect of the foster child within the household. He shall comply with all directives given to him by the Permanent Secretary.

2. Any foster parent shall at all times inform the Permanent Secretary of any likely change of address, telephone or contact number of the child who is in placement. Such notification shall as far as practicable take place at least 8 days before its occurrence.

3. The foster parent shall ensure that all services and duties as set out in the specific agreement are complied with at all times. These concern living conditions, privacy, education and discipline, health and hygiene, safety and religious and cultural practices. These include inter alia, the following

(a) the child has a right to privacy as appropriate for his age;

(b) the child's right to education which may include the following –

(i) attend school and adequate facilities for studying as is appropriate for the age and any special needs of the child;

(ii) as far as is practicable attend specialised institution for a child with special needs, i.e disabled child;

(iii) have regular contact with teachers and other professionals who interact with the child;

(iv) child to be kept, as far as practicable, in current school;

(v) follow-up of homework and school report;

(vi) respect for religious and cultural identity;

(vii) discipline is given in a positive way, the child is not subjected to corporal punishment, immobilisation, force feeding, deprivations, humiliation or fear;

(c) the child's access to health safety and hygienic conditions which may include the following –

(i) the child must be properly fed, i.e a balanced diet, same quantity and quality of food as the rest of the family;

(ii) first-aid kit available in the house;

(iii)regular medical and dental check-ups and vaccinations;

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