Boy bullied over buck teeth wins €4k dental fees
The foster parents of a 14-year-old boy, who claimed the State should have paid for orthodontic treatment he needed because of bullying over his protruding teeth, have won a High Court challenge.
The court overturned a District Court decision to decline to make an order compelling the Child and Family Agency (CFA) pay the €4,750 treatment bill.
Two orthodontists had said the boy needed the treatment with one saying if it was left until he is older it would be more complex, the court heard.
The foster parents paid for treatment out of their own pockets.
The mother claimed they should be reimbursed by the CFA which oversees and pays for the placement of children in foster care.
The court heard there is a €1,400 per month tax-free payment to foster parents for children under 11 and, it had been argued, the treatment could be funded from this.
The foster parents have looked after the boy for the last 10 years along with the boy's older brother and another younger child.
Ms Justice Marie Baker quashed the District Court's decision and also urged that a review of the application for payment, as has been offered by the CFA, be conducted.
Justice Baker noted with concern the legal costs of the District and High Court cases "far outweigh the cost of the orthodontic treatment".
The case arose when the foster mother became aware funding for the treatment from CFA would not be forthcoming and she applied to the District Court to make a decision.
While it was accepted in the District Court that the treatment was in the child's interests, it declined to make an order on the basis of separation of powers between the judiciary and State bodies and therefore did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
The mother challenged that decision in the High Court. The CFA opposed the challenge.
In her decision, Ms Justice Baker said the District Court did fall into error.