Provisions introducing age requirements on the right of the child to be heard in placement decisions

The map presents data on existing provisions on the right of the child to be heard in placement decisions. These include provisions applying in cases of voluntary placement, where there are administrative procedures, and forced placement (without the parents’ consent), and where competent judicial authorities usually take relevant decisions.

Different provisions exist regarding the right of the child to be heard in the judicial or administrative procedures on placement, and those on establishing the requirement to take into consideration the child’s views in the development of an individual care plan. The latter are very often optional, which is to say that they have no statutory power and are left to the discretion of the social workers/case workers.

Provisions introducing age requirements on the right of the child to be heard in placement decisions (this map should be read together with the map on provisions requiring multidisciplinary assessment of child protection cases)


Source: FRA, 2014

  Yes, there are provisions introducing age requirements
  No, there no provisions on age requirements

Key findings

  • In many Member States age limitations apply and specific requirements should be met.
  • In most of the cases where no age limits apply, it is provided that the child's age and maturity should be taken into consideration. In these cases, even when it is enshrined in law, the authorities may decide whether or not to listen to the child and take into account his/her views.
  • The weight to be granted to the child’s views differs in each case according to the child’s age and understanding.
  • When age limits apply, it is often the case that children aged 12 years or over have to be heard, while for those younger it remains at the discretion of the authorities.
  • In some Member States provisions exist establishing that the consent of a child is required in cases of placement.

In 11 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania) there are provisions introducing age requirements, setting clear obligations for the respective authorities to listen to children above a certain age. In these Member States, the realisation of the rights of children younger than the age established by law largely depends on the respective authorities. This is also the case when no age requirements are in place, and it is up to the respective authorities to assess the maturity and the evolving capacities of the child.

The level of participation of the child also differs between Member States. In at least four Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Romania), existing provisions require that the consent or statement of non-opposition of children above a certain age (14 or 15 years old) should be obtained in placement decisions. Exceptions are foreseen only in grave situations.