Rebecca Davies represented the father (the second respondent) in an appeal brought by the mother against the making of a placement order concerning their young daughter. The father supported the mother's appeal.
The court allowed the appeal because of:
- flaws in the analysis of the realistic options, and
- the judge having insufficient evidence to conclude whether long-term foster care with the current carers was a viable option.
The application for a placement order was remitted for re-hearing.
Background to the proceedings
The child had significant medical difficulties which could be life-threatening.
She had spent the first part of her life in hospital then 18 months with specialist agency foster carers. These carers indicated that they wished to care for the child until she reached adulthood. However they were unable to agree a financial package with the local authority, either under a special guardianship order, long-term foster care, or adoption.
The professionals agreed that the carers were providing optimum care to the child. The judge indicated that if she could ‘wave a magic wand to keep her there, she would’. But she found that she could not and made placement orders.
Basis of the appeal
The appeal centred on:
- the judge's analysis of whether the long-term foster care was a realistic option
- her analysis of the benefits and detriments of the various options
- the lack of an alternative care plan for the child in light of the slim chances of an adoptive placement being found.
During the hearing, information emerged that there may be scope for agreeing a financial package due to movements from the current carers.