An Emergency Care Order for a boy who was threatening to kill himself was among a number of applications for various types of Care Orders and reviews of existing orders over the course of a day in the District Court in a provincial city.
The Emergency Care Order was sought by a mother who admitted that she couldn’t keep her son safe. The court was told that the boy had run out of school saying that he was going to kill himself and had also said, while at home, that he was going to the graveyard where his friends were buried. The boy had been brought to an A&E hospital department where a member of An Garda Síochána had invoked section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991. The court was told that the CFA believed that there was an immediate and serious risk to the boy. The Emergency Care Order was made for one week, the mother was encouraged to get legal representation and it was agreed that a plan should be handed in to the court on the next occasion.
In another case the father of a girl was present in court after the judge had issued a witness summons two weeks’ previously, following a number of non-attendances. A review of the girl’s Care Order was dealt with where the court was told that the girl had been avoiding social workers. The judge pointed out that this was an unusual step and said that “most responsible parents attend court when they are asked.” The judge suggested that the father might be assisting the girl to avoid social workers.
The girl herself was present in court. The judge told the girl that the way she was vanishing was dangerous and that she was going to get hurt sooner or later. He also said that the way that the girl disappeared was not fair to the people taking care of her, her foster parents. The judge referred to a letter that the girl had handed into the court and said that it was a very good letter which showed that the girl wanted to spend more time with her family. The judge said to the girl that she had done better in care than most people and was now within sight of her Leaving Certificate. He gave the matter another review date after the Leaving Certificate.
In a review of a Care Order for a fifteen year old boy the judge appointed a solicitor for the boy and directed that the solicitor “exercise his discretion”. The matter was adjourned so as to enable the solicitor to take instructions from the boy.
A Care Order for one year was granted on consent in another case. The judge noted that where the mother was not present to express her consent he decided the matter on the evidence. The matter was listed for a review two months later.
Another review was heard concerning a seventeen year old boy who was in care with a relative. The boy was present in court and the judge asked him what his plan was for when he turned eighteen. The boy replied that he planned to continue to live with his relative. The judge said that when a child in care enters adolescence he likes to review the cases as problems may arise around this age. The judge said that he would like to review the case before him again in six months.
An application for an extension of an Interim Care Order was heard where there were concerns that the father of the child had been drinking and where there were concerns around a burn injury that the child had received when he had been pushed by an older sibling into an open fire. The foster carer was of the opinion that the child did not have any routine when he returned to his father’s house on access visits and would return to the foster carers very tired. The CFA social worker said that there had not been any improvements and that there were concerns around supervision and whether the accommodation was suitable.
The court heard that on one occasion the father’s apartment had flooded while the father was watching a football match and the children were present. The social worker said that she felt that the father would benefit from linking in with Barnardos [child welfare charity] and doing a parenting course which would cover relationships with children and managing anger.
The social worker recommended a Care Order for one year and said that she thought that would be sufficient time for the father to take on board what he needed to do and for the boy to have the consistency he needed. The father said that he wanted his son back and that he would sort out his accommodation. The judge said that the father needed to do something so that he could look after his kids. The judge made a Care Order for four months and said that if there had been no improvements that he would expect the CFA to be applying for a longer order.
In another case a Care Order was granted for one year for a child whose mother, from another European country, had left her in Ireland with the child’s uncle so that she could go and visit another child of hers in her own country. The court heard that on another occasion the mother returned to her country and left the child with a friend and then a social worker.