State Pupil: Placement of a Child

Verified 19 November 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

A ward of the state is a minor child who has lost all ties to his or her parents or family. It is entrusted to the services of the department and hosted mainly in nursery (small child) or in foster family. A ward of the State may also be adopted.

The child may obtain the status of ward of the State in the absence of parents or at the request of parents if they exist or at the request of a guardian or a judge.

This status may be assigned in the following cases:

  • Child of unknown parents (child found or born under X), collected by child welfare (Ase) for more than 2 months
  • Child related to (parentage) is established and known, and is handed over to the Esa by a person responsible for him (other than his parents: guardian, curator,...) for more than 2 months, to become ward of the State
  • Orphan child, taken in by Ase for more than 2 months, for whom no family member wants or can be the guardian
  • Child entrusted to Ase for more than 6 months, by one or two parents, to become ward of the State
  • Child entrusted to Ase by his parents who have been the subject of a total withdrawal of parental authority
  • Child for whom a court order of parental neglect (abandonment) has been pronounced

When the child is handed over to the service of the ESA, a report shall be drawn up. The document indicates, among other things, the agreement for a possible adoption of the child. This consent may be given by the child's parents, guardian, or a family member responsible for the child.

If the child's parents so wish, the minutes shall also contain all information concerning their health, the child's origins, the reasons for and the circumstances in which the child was handed over to Asia. At that point, the child no longer has a legal relationship with his or her parents.

The child is then provisionally declared a ward of the State from the date on which the minutes are drawn up.

A specific guardianship is then organized by the prefect (who exercises the functions of guardian) and the State wards family council to protect the child.

The child is placed in a nursery (infant) or with a host family for a transitional period.

On the date of the minutes (of the declaration of the child as a temporary ward), parents who have handed their child over to the ESA have the opportunity to go and look for them within a period of 2 months, without any formalities.

Where the child's parents have not handed him over to the service of the Ase, the time limit to go and find him is 6 months. This is the case, for example, when a judicial decision to abandon has been taken.

After these periods, the child is returned to the parents only if the guardian (prefect) or family council of state wards accepts it. In the event of refusal by the guardian or the family council of the wards of the State, the parents may appeal to the court of law the place where the child was placed.


in case of recovery of the child, the department services offer medical, psychological, educational and social support of the parent and the child, during the 3 years following this recovery.

If the child has not been retrieved and the 2 and 6 month deadlines are exceeded, the child is granted the status of a ward of the State by a decree taken by the president of the departmental council.

The child who has the status of ward of the State may be the subject of a project simple adoption or plenary.

This project is defined by the guardian (prefect) with the agreement of the family council of the wards of the State.

The child may be adopted by:

  • Host family to which it has been entrusted
  • Person approved by the Head of the ESA Service

The child is not adoptable if the guardian (prefect) proves that the adoption measure is not favorable to the child. This is the case, for example, when the guardian decides to maintain ties with the original family, in the interests of the child.


as long as the child is not adopted, the child retains the status of a ward of the State. If it is adopted, it loses that status.