Freyja Haraldsdóttir, former substitute MP for Bright Future, has filed a case against the Government Agency for Child Protection (Barnaverndarstofa or BVS) in response to their denial of her application to become a foster parent, mbl.is reports. Freyja, who is physically disabled, claims her application was not handled in the same way as those of non-disabled applicants, and the case is brought forth on those grounds.
Sigrún Ingibjörg Gísladóttir, Freyja's lawyer, states Freyja's foster parent application was denied without sufficient justification and her ability as a potential foster parent never assessed. Sigrún does not know of any similar case that has been brought before an Icelandic court. When asked whether it could become a test case for the Icelandic court system, Sigrún stated it would depend on the resolution.
The first step in obtaining a license to become a foster parent in Iceland is to submit an application to BVS, and the second to request a review from the family council within the applicant’s municipality. Freyja completed both steps, receiving approval from the family council of Garðabær municipality. The next step was to apply for a course called “Foster Pride,” run by BVS and intended for individuals interested in becoming foster parents. Freyja did so, but her application was denied. Applicants are required to take the course before they are granted an adoption license.
Freyja referred the denial to the ruling committee of the Ministry of Welfare, which confirmed the decision. She subsequently filed a case against the Government Agency for Child Protection.
Bragi Guðbrandsson, director of the Government Agency for Child Protection, says foster parent applications have been denied many times before at the same stage as Freyja’s. “The prerequisites for getting to foster a child are twofold. On one hand they depend on various objective issues which require putting forth all sorts of documents like for example health and criminal records. The other part of the case is the assessment of the individual, which takes place during the Foster Pride course. In this particular case there was no reason to take the matter further because the previous conditions were not met,” stated Bragi.
Bragi added that Freyja’s case was processed through the agency according to normal procedure. “I can maintain that it was treated with special care and among other things, we solicited expertise. We have a lot of respect for Freyja as we do for everyone else who shows interest in becoming a foster parent. But this is always an assessment of each individual case and in Freyja’s case the assessment was decided in this way.”
Bragi stated knowing of one previous case brought against the Government Agency for Child Protection in response to the denial of a foster parent application, which occurred two or three years ago. In that case the denial was confirmed. Freyja is not the first physically disabled person to apply to become a foster parent in Iceland.