Tuesday 21 February 2017

Grandchild case shows it is now too easy for State to interfere with families

Published 03/06/2016 | 02:30

Tusla said one of the reasons a nine-year-boy was taken from his grandparents, who are in their sixties, was because they are too old (Stock picture)
Tusla said one of the reasons a nine-year-boy was taken from his grandparents, who are in their sixties, was because they are too old (Stock picture)

All over the country, children are being looked after full-time by their grandparents. This happens when the parents of the child are not in a position, for whatever reason, to be the child's primary carers. The grandparents, in many cases, do not become the legal guardians of their grandchild but they do become their grandchild's de facto parents. The arrangement is informal and flexible.

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If the State had its way, grandparents would rarely be the primary carers of grandchildren, let alone their foster parents or guardians. This is because the State, in this case the Child and Family Agency -Tusla - has a rule which says that you should not become the carer of a child if there is more than a 40-year age gap between you and the child.

Thanks to Independent TD Mattie McGrath, this rule came to public attention last week when it emerged that Tusla removed a nine-year-old boy from his grandparents last October. He had been with them for the last four years. One of the reasons given was that the grandparents, who are in their sixties, are too old to look after their grandchild.

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