Legislation – Legal Frame of the system of substitute family care in the Czech Republic
The legal frame of the substitute care has always existed in Czech Republic. But within the years 1990 and 2013 went through important development. In this period and until the year 2014 the family law in Czech Republic had an individual code whereby there were important amendments in the years 1998 and 2013 but from the year 2014 all family law is icluded in the Civil code – a unified civil law book and this has brought big changes.
The substiture family care then is governed by these three main laws:
- the Constitution and Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms – children have the right to have education and care of parents. The parental right can be limited or shortened and children can be taken away of parents even against the parent’s will but only by a court decision based on law,
- the second important law is the Civil Code and mainly its second part devoted to the family law incl. the rules of substitute family care and
- the third is the Law on the social and legal child protection.
Also other minor laws touch the area of substitute care – e.g. Law about social welfare, about social services, institutional care or protective care in educational establishments, on subsistence minimum, on assistance in material need, a special judicial proceedings, the Civil Procedure Code. Part of the legislation on foster care are also normative instructions and regulations of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech government. These standards are directly related to the provision of foster care in the Czech Republic.
The current legislation clearly prefers the substitute family care from the institutional care. System is set the way that in case the child cannot stay in their natural biological family environment, the next following solution should be the substitute family care. The institutional care should be the last possibility when all other possibilities fail.
The substitute care in the Czech Republic is defined as the care when the child’s upbringing is provided by a substitute parent or parents directly in their family. The purpose of this is to give the children temporary or longterm care in the time when they do not have their normal family background.
The various forms of substitute care in the Czech Republic
a) child custody by another person than a parent, e.g. another family member-often grandparents or parent’s siblings – we call it ‘relative foster care’, and this system is well spread in Czech rep. because the court considers the family members first.
The biological parents keep their parental rights and the substitute parent has by court limited and determined rights to the child – the substitute parent has the right and duty to provide care for the child and represent the child in common situations. But in some cases the consent of the biological parent is needed – e.g. arranging the child a passport, entering a high school, living abroad etc. When this biological parent’s consent is impossible to obtain, the court must decide instead.
b) foster care – as in the first form the bilogical parents keep their parental rights and the substitute parent has by court limited and determined rights to the child – the substitute parent has the right and duty to provide care for the child and represent the child in common situations. But again in some cases the consent of biological parent is needed – e.g. arranging the child a passport, entering a high school, living abroad etc. When this biological parent’s consent is impossible to obtain the court must decide instead.
The difference between them is that the foster care is always finantially supported by the state but in the case of the child custody by another person than a parent, it is considered by the authority – office of social and legal child protection, always individually, depending for example on family financial situation.
The child cannot be given to the first form of substitute care called ‘relative foster care’ when the child’s biological parents cannot afford to pay the child financial support while the second – the foster care itself is always supported by the state – financially and also institutionally.
c) foster care for interim period:
the child is placed into a temporary foster care when there is a high probabbility that the child could go back to their family after unsatisfactory conditions that caused the need of temporary foster care expire. These conditions can be e.g. poor social family background, serious financial problems limiting the child care, serious health parent’s problems, parent’s addictions on alcohol or drugs. Sometimes the children after termination of the foster care for interim period which is 1 year (very exceptionally 2 years) have to be fostered fully because the original family function could not be recovered.
d) guardianship – biological parents loose their parental resposibility but not all rights and duties – e.g. must pay the child support, a guardian has full rights to the child – e.g. does not need parent’s consent to arrange a passport for the child. The guardian represents the child fully
All the three – foster care, foster care for interim period and guardianship have in Czech rep. high support of the state – financial support, legislative support, support of helping organisations like our Family and Community centre Chaloupka. Foster families have the duty to conclude The Agreement on the performance of foster care with either a chosen helping organisation or the authority of social and legal child protection.
the biological parents absolutely and forever loose their parental rights and the child becomes the child of their new adoptive parent as if they were their biological parents. For example the adoptive parents are written in the child’s birth certificate which is a very important document in Czech Republic, the child gets the new adoptive parent’s surname, which is also a very significant thing in Czech rep. as the family usually carries the same surname- the wife takes husband’s surname and their children too; the children can inherit as well.