What to do next?
If spouses or an individual decide to accept a child, their first steps will be directed to the municipal authority with extended competence according to their permanent residence. The social worker of the Department of Social and Legal Protection of Children will explain the official procedure and give them the Application for the Register (the application form is also available to download from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic), to which additional documents must be attached:
- A document of citizenship or a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic or a document proving the uninterrupted temporary residence in the Czech Republic for at least 365 days, according to a special legal regulation governing the foreigners’ residence in the Czech Republic. In the case of an EU citizen, the Office may require the submission of another document proving that the applicant has been permanently present in the Czech Republic for at least 365 days; unless the foreigner is entitled to social benefits from a directly applicable EU regulation, also Health Report;
- A report on economic and social conditions of the applicant;
- Other necessary documents (Section 21, Par. 5 of the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children).
Under the conditions of the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children, the applicants must also enclose their written consent acknowledging that the authority for the social and legal protection of children is entitled to investigate other necessary information for mediation, in particular, whether the applicant’s lifestyle can secure a suitable educational environment for the child. At the same time, the applicant gives written consent to the verification at any time whether the relevant facts have not changed. Applicants also attach their consent to their participation in the preparation for the adoption of the child into the family (compulsory course).
A staff member of the Office in charge of foster care will visit the household of the applicants for further observations of their lifestyle. At the same time, the office will request a copy from the criminal record or a similar relevant document from the criminal record issued in states where the applicant has been staying continuously for more than 3 months between the age of 15 and the application. If the office will not find any serious deficiencies, it shall forward the complete documentation including the Office’s evaluation report for expert assessment and further approval to the relevant regional authority or Prague City Hall authority.
When approving the applicants for substitute family care, the experts asses their personality characteristics, mental health, physical health, integrity, the prerequisite to raising a child, the motivation that led to the application, the stability of the partners’ relationship and the family environment. The attitude of other family members to the adoption of the child is also examined. The expert report also includes an assessment of the process for the child’s acceptation to the family. The scope of the professional assessment is defined in Section 27 of the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children.
Preparatory courses for future substitute parents are provided by the relevant regional authority, in Prague by the Prague City Hall or other authorized persons. The mission of the courses is to provide you, future foster parents, with all necessary knowledge of the specific issues of foster care, to provide realistic information on the situation and needs of children living outside their own family and to give you a clear idea of what child you can accept into their care.
As you prepare, you will have the opportunity to expert with practical experience and discuss any issues. You should also meet with adoptive parents and foster parents who are already caring for the children and who can share their personal experience with foster care and answer your questions.
Based on the expert assessment, the competent regional authority or the Prague City Hall will approve or not approve your application to the register of the substitute care providers. This decision-making process falls under the court decision, which means that you can appeal if you disagree with the decision. If during the proceedings, the regional authority finds serious reasons for which the applicant cannot be included in the register, it may decide to reject the applicant’s application even before conducting an expert assessment.
(Note: depending on the current situation, the application process may be interrupted or withdrawn at any time during the decision-making process, at the request of the applicant in writing.)