The law on the issuing of care orders is to be changed. These will no longer be issued by the Minister, but this duty will be taken over by the Family Court.
After the Easter holidays, Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity Michael Falzon is expected to present the Act for the protection of minors, alternative safeguards, for its first reading in Parliament. This Act will lead to a change in the law about the issuing of care orders, making their authorisation come from the Family Court rather than the Minister.
Minister Falzon stated that “wide consultations are in progress with the many stakeholders. I believe the emphasis on consultation is something we really wish to go for. It is our wish that when this act goes through Parliament, it will have the maximum amount of support. This means that even our approach in Parliament would not be simply that of presenting a bill, nothing is ready but we are prepared to listen and take notice of what is said.”
In an interview on TVM, Minister Falzon said the law will include plans for procedures enabling care orders to be issued within days in the event of serious cases. The Chief Executive for Social Welfare Services, Alfred Grixti, also confirmed this with the News Centre.
Mr Grixti stated that “a Magistrate will be appointed to focus on these issues. Judicial assistants will also have to be appointed, this is part of the law; this is the checklist our Ministry wants to conclude with the Justice Ministry.”
Minister Falzon declared that the law is aimed at always placing the children’s interests first and foremost.
“The Act in itself clearly and unequivocally specifies that in every step taken, the children’s interests always come first, something which follows on the children’s policy and other issues.”
Wide consultation is presently under way with all parties, including those involved in fostering, Church homes and even the Judiciary.