14. 08. 2019
The Ombudsman dealt with the case of a mother whose three small children were removed away from her care as it had been found that she had been neglecting them. The court placed them in a children’s home. The mother tried to sort out her life, started a relationship with a new partner and found herself suitable accommodation. She wanted to be in contact with her children. She regularly spoke with them on the phone and visited them in the children’s home. Later, she asked the home’s director to permit the children to stay with her for a longer period of time. However, the BSLPC repeatedly refused to grant its consent until the mother underwent therapy and the therapy proved to have results.
According the law only a court can restrict contact between parents and children. A child in institutional care can stay in a parent’s household for several days only with a permission from the director of the given children’s home, subject to prior consent of a body for social and legal protection of children (BSLPC). Even if a child’s contact with a parent is not in the child’s best interest, the BSLPC may not prevent contact by repeatedly disagreeing with the child’s stay with his/her parents, but must rather file an application with the competent court to restrict the child’s contact with the parents.
The Ombudsman therefore concluded that the BSLPC exceeded its competence because it set the conditions for long-term contact of the mother with her children (thus assuming the competence of the court). The situation in the family improved in the meantime and the BSLPC no longer considered it necessary to file an application for restriction of contact. It further supported (granted consents to) the children’s stay with their mother and pledged to respect the limits of its competence.