Under section 34(1) Children Act 1989 the local authority (social services) must allow the child in foster care reasonable contact with:
- His/her parents
- His/her guardian
- Any person who held a residence order/child arrangements order for residence immediately before the care order was made
- Any person who has had care of the child under wardship immediately before the care order was made
The local authority has a general duty to promote contact for that child with wider family members such as grandparents and siblings.
The local authority has a power (but not a duty) to assist financially towards contact with a child in foster care.
Each local authority will have their own policy on financial contributions and will usually fund it if otherwise it would cause undue financial hardship to the person having contact with a child in foster care.
The Family Court has power to make an order allowing Children’s Services to refuse contact of a child in care with a named person.
Children’s Services can also refuse contact urgently if it is necessary to safeguard the child or promote the child’s welfare, but this can only last for a maximum of seven days. Children’s Services must explain their reasons in writing. To refuse contact for more than seven days the Children’s Services must obtain a family court order. The Family Court can make an order which authorises the refusal of contact for longer if it is for the child’s best interests and/or safety but this must be regularly reviewed and contact must resume as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.