If a child cannot grow up in his own biological family, his situation must be resolved by placing him in substitute family care. The most optimal solution is either a foster family care or adoption, which always takes precedence over institutional education.
Substitute family care is carried out in the form of:
Family care - care of a child who is raised by persons other than biological parents in an environment that most closely resembles life in a natural family (e.g. adoption, foster care, temporary foster care, guardianship, care of another person);
Institutional (residential) care - a measure ordered by a court if the child‘s upbringing is seriously endangered or seriously impaired and other measures have failed to remedy the situation, or if other serious reasons prevent the parents from providing for the child‘s upbringing. Before ordering institutional care, the court is obliged to examine whether the child‘s upbringing cannot be ensured by foster family care. From 2025, it will not be possible to place children under the age of three in institutional care.
Regulated by Civil Code ("Občanský zákoník") No. 89/2012, § 794–845.
Adoption establishes a parent-child relationship between the adopter(s) and the adoptee, as well as a kinship relationship with other members of the adopter’s family. From the point of view of law, the same kinship relationships arise between the adoptive parents and the child as between parents and children. The child's kinship relationships with the original family are terminated by the court's decision on adoption. Adoption cannot be revoked after three years have passed since the court's decision on adoption (unless the adoption was against the law). Adoptive parents gain full parental responsibility and are legally registered in the birth register. The child also acquires the surname of the new parents. There must be a reasonable age difference between the adopter and the adoptee.
Adoptive parents are obliged by law to inform the adopted child about the fact of adoption as soon as it seems appropriate, ideally from an early age adequately to the child's mental abilities, but no later than before the start of schooling.
The court decides on the adoption. Before the court's decision on adoption, the child is placed into a so-called pre-adoption care of the future adopter for at least six months, at his expense.
The care of a child in adoptive families is not subjected to any special supervision by state institutions. In case of interest or need, families can use the support of non-governmental organizations dedicated to this area, or turn to the social-legal child protection department of the municipality with extended scope.
Only state institutions can mediate adoption in the Czech Republic. Mediation does not occur in the case of so-called direct adoption. These are situations where parents consent to the adoption of a child in relation to a certain person. At that time, the assessment only takes place during the court proceedings for custody of the child, which is initiated on the basis of a proposal submitted by future adopters.
According to Civil Code (§ 846), even an adult can be adopted, if it does not contradict good morals.
Intercountry adoption is performed by the Office for International Legal Protection of Children in Brno. In reagards to certain guarantees in the process of mediating intercountry adoption, the Office cooperates only with countries that have ratified the Hague Adoption Convention.
Regulated by Civil Code ("Občanský zákoník") No. 89/2012, § 958–970, and Act on Social-Legal Protection of Children ("Zákon o sociálně-právní ochraně dětí") No. 359/1999, § 27a) and § 47.
Foster care is a state-supported form of family care intended to ensure the material security of the child and to provide adequate remuneration to foster parentsconcerning the complexity of the care provided. A child may be entrusted to the foster care of an individual or the joint foster care of spouses. The legislation establishes the best interests of the child as the determining consideration for foster care. Foster care takes precedence in law over the care of a child in an institution.
If the child is capable of expressing his or her own opinion freely given his or her age and intellectual maturity, his or her opinion must be taken into account before the child is placed in foster care.
The foster parent has the right to represent the child and to manage his/her affairs only in routine matters. To carry out special matters (e.g. the processing of a travel document), he/she must seek the consent of the child‘s legal guardian or the court. If the fostercarer believes that the decision of the legal guardian is not in the child‘s best interests, he or she may seek a decision from the court. Foster care may be changed to guardianship in cases where the child‘s parents have died, been deprived of parental responsibility, had their parental responsibility limited or suspended, or had their capacity to exercise parental responsibility limited. Foster care is established by a court decision and only a court can also decide to terminate foster care. It can only do so for compelling reasons, but it must always revoke foster care if the foster parent so requests. Foster care ceases when the child reaches the age of majority. If the child is placed in foster care, the foster parent is obliged to promote the child‘s association with his or her biological family and persons close to the child.
There is a distinction between mediated fostercare and non-mediated foster care. Mediated foster care means caring for a child „selected“ by the county and the foster parent is served with a notice of suitability to become the foster parent of the selected child. In non-mediated foster care, this act of „selecting“ the child through the county office is absent. In the case of non-mediated fostercare, the child is often cared for by grandparents, other relatives, or persons close to the child.
Regulated by the Act on Social-Legal Protection of Children ("Zákon o sociálně-právní ochraně dětí") No. 359/1999, § 27a
A specifictype of mediated fostercare is temporary fostercare, which is intended to fulfill the institute of crisis or temporary placement of a child outside his/ her own family. The court may, on the proposal of the social and legal protection of children authority, entrust a child to temporary foster care to persons included in the register kept by the regional authority for:
the period during which the parent cannot raise the child for serious reasons (for health reasons, serving a prison sentence, etc.);
the period after which the parent‘s consent to the adoption may be given;
the time until a final decision of the court that there is no need for parental consent to adoption.
This last case is the situation when the parent shows a lack of interest. A parent‘s lack of interest in the child is deemed to be undisputable if the parent has not expressed genuine interest for over 3 months. However, if the behavior of the parent cannot be regarded as a gross violation of the parent‘s obligations, the parent must be informed by the child welfare authority on the possible consequences of his or her behavior and at least three months must have elapsed since such instruction before the court decision. The court decides whether the parent is not interested in the child upon the application of the social welfare authority as the child‘s guardian or the application of the parent.Fostercare for a transitional period may last no longer than 1 year. In exceptional cases, especially if it is clear that the steps already underway are leading to the child being placed in long-term care, the child may be placed in temporary foster care again.
Temporary foster care can last no longer than one year. In exceptional cases, especially if it is clear that the steps already underway are aimed at placing the child in long-term care, the child can be placed in foster care for a temporary period again. The court can order the child to be placed in foster care for a temporary period by means of a preliminary measure.
Only a person listed in the regional authority‘s register of persons suitable for temporary foster care can become a temporary foster parent. The process of professional assessment before inclusion in the register is similar to that for applicants for adoption and „traditional“ foster care. The preparation is carried out in the scope of 72 hours (in the scope of at least 48 hours in the case of ordinary foster care) and is expanded to include topics specific to this type of care (crisis care, cooperation with the child‘s biological family, transfer of the child to further care, transitional fostering and the foster parents‘ biological children, etc.). Persons who, based on a professional assessment, have the prerequisites for the provision of such care for a child, particularly in terms of the short-term nature of such care and topics related to the preparation of the child for the transition to the stable care of other parents, are included in the register of persons suitable for the temporary foster care. Temporary foster care, where foster parents take in a child shortly after birth, is relatively widespread. They are also assessed on their ability to care for infants and toddlers and their ability to cooperate with the parents of these children.
Regulated by Civil Code ("Občanský zákoník") No. 89/2012, § 953.
If the child‘s best interests require, the court may entrust the child to the custody of a person other than the parent if that person consents to the child being entrusted to his or her care. The condition is that they must guarantee the child‘s successful upbringing. In choosing the appropriate person, the court will usually give preference to a relative of the child, but it may also be someone else who is close to the child and to whom the child has developed a relationship.
The child may also be entrusted to the joint custody of the spouses. The child may be entrusted to the care of one spouse only with the consent of the otherspouse, provided that the latter is legally competent or that the measure of consent does not involve an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. In its decision, the courtshall always define for the persons to whom it entrusts custody the extent of their rights and obligations to the child.
Custody will be granted only if it is possible to impose maintenance obligations on the parents in respect of the child. The court may regulate how the child‘s maintenance isto be managed, in particular by determining what part is to be used for consumption and what part is to be saved for the child. As of 2022, when a child is entrusted to the care of another person, the child is entitled to contribution covering his needs in the amount of the difference between the needs and the maintenance determined by the court.
Regulated by Civil Code ("Občanský zákoník") No. 89/2012, § 928.
The court shall appoint a guardian for the child if:
the child‘s parents have died;
the parents have been deprived of parental responsibility;
their parental responsibility has been suspended;
they do not have full legal capacity(and therefore do not retain parental responsibility).
The guardian acts as the child‘s legal representative. The guardian is required to raise the child, represent and manage the child‘s property in place of the parents. If the guardian takes care of the child personally, he or she is entitled to foster care benefits. If a child isinitially placed in fostercare and the conditionschange, for example, the parents are relieved of parental responsibility, the current foster parents may be appointed guardians. If the guardian does not personally raise the child, the child may be in the care of another person or institution while the guardian acts as the child‘s legal representative.
The legal relationship between the guardian and the child is not the same as that between the parents and the child. The guardian does not have a maintenance obligation towards the child.
The exercise of guardianship is regularly supervised by the court, not only the administration of the child‘s property but also the child‘s personal affairs. The guardian shall report to the court on the matters, usually at annual intervals. Any decision of the guardian on a substantial matter concerning the child requires the approval of the court.
It includes facilities for children requiring immediate assistance, children's homes for children up to three years of age (so-called infant institutions and children's centers), children's homes, children's homes with a school, educational institutions, diagnostic institutions and homes for persons with disabilities.
Educational measures ordered by the court if the child's upbringing is seriously threatened or seriously disturbed and other educational measures have not led to correction, or if for other serious reasons the parents cannot ensure the child's upbringing. Before ordering institutional education, the court is obliged to examine whether the child's upbringing cannot be ensured by substitute family care. From 2025, it will not be possible to place children under the age of three in institutional education.
Institutions providing health services and care for infants and toddlers, usually under 3 years of age, who cannot grow up in a family environment, in particular children with disabilities orchildren who have been abused, neglected, exploited, and endangered by an inappropriate social environment. Providing care means food, accommodation, clothing, and educational activities. From 2025, it will not be possible to place children under the age of three in institutional care.
They shall provide protection and assistance to a child who is left without any caregiver or whose life or favorable development is seriously endangered, or who is without age-appropriate care, to a child who was physically or mentally abused or exploited, or who is in an environment or situation where his or her fundamental rights are seriously endangered. The protection and assistance of such a child shall consist of the satisfaction of the basic needs of life, including accommodation, the provision of health services, and psychological and other similar care as necessary. A child may be placed in this type of institution based on a contract for protection and assistance or based on a court decision. From 2025, it will not be possible to place children under the age of three in institutions for children in need of immediate assistance.
Accepts children with a precautionary measure, institutional education, or protective education; it also accepts children with protective education based on the results of a comprehensive examination, the health condition of the children, and the available capacity of individual facilities in children‘s care homes with schools or educational institutions. A child is placed in a diagnostic institute for a period not exceeding eight weeks as a rule.
Children aged from 3 to a maximum of 18 years or up to a maximum of 26 years of age may be admitted to a children‘s home. Minor mothers and their children are also admitted to a children‘s home. The purpose of the children‘s care home is to provide care for children who have been ordered to undergo institutional upbringing without serious behavioral problems. These children are educated in schools that are not part of the children‘s home.From 2025, it will not be possible to place children under the age of three in institutional care.
Children from the age of 6 until the end of compulsory schooling are generally placed in a joint institution of a children‘s home with school. The purpose of the children‘s home with school is to provide care for children with serious behavioral disorders who require special educational and therapeutic care or who have been ordered to undergo protective education because of a temporary or permanent mental disorder. These children are usually educated in a school that is part of the establishment.
Provides care for children over 15 years of age with serious behavioral disorders who have been ordered to undergo institutional care or protective education. A child over 12 years of age may also be admitted to an educational institution if he or she has been placed under protective education and his or her behavior is so seriously disturbed, and he or she cannot be placed in a children‘s home with a school. Separate educational institutions are set up for children ordered to undergo institutional education and those ordered to undergo protective education.
The concept of host care is not clearly defined by law and it is not an institute of foster care. However, since it is used in practice, we should provide a brief description of this form of a child‘s stay outside his/her own family.
The director of a residential facility may, with the prior written consent of the municipality with extended jurisdiction acting as the child‘s guardian, allow the child to stay temporarily (usually for a weekend or holiday) outside the residential facility with persons other than parents and relatives. This form of care does not usually envisage that the child could be permanently placed in this "hosting" family.
The first stay is limited to 30 calendar days. The competent authority shall examine the family and social environment in which the child will reside and consider the child‘s individual protection plan before granting consent. As a rule, it shall request a professional assessment of the persons requesting "host care“ carried out by a regional authority. If a child has been placed in the residential care facility at the request of his or her parents or legal guardians, a visit to another person cannot be authorized without their written consent.
This form of out-of-home placement is particularly suitable for children who have been in institutional care for a long time. These are mainly older children, children with various educational or health requirements, sibling groups, etc. In many cases, people interested in providing ,host care‘ have distorted ideas as to what children should be provided with this type of care and what this assistance should mean. Should this type of care be beneficial to the child, it needs a clear framework and, above all, requires a full understanding of the situation from the child. It should in no way be an unsystematic intervention in the child‘s life, and those interested in this form of care should be educated on the needs of children and the effects of host care on the child's wellbeing.
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