An Interim Care Order was extended for of six children where there were allegations of drugs, alcohol misuse and neglect.
The social worker told the court that there was a history of “repeated and chronic neglect” in relation to the children. He explained that the family lived in “dirt and squalor” and said that there was “urine, faeces and rotten food” throughout the home. In addition, he said that the children had presented poorly to school and the staff had voiced their concerns about the welfare of the children.
The social worker admitted that the home was in good condition at present. He said that the parents had “put huge effort into the house but problems were still there.” He remarked that there had been periods of improvement in the past but the conditions soon deteriorated. He said that it was “likely the issues would re-occur and that it would be traumatising for the children.”
The solicitor for the mother told the social worker that the mother indicated that she would consent to a Supervision Order which would allow the children to return home and further allow the CFA to monitor the conditions. The mother also suggested that a family support worker could assist in maintaining the condition of the house.
The social worker replied that such proposal would not be adequate as the social work department did not know why conditions in the home had deteriorated in the first place. He said that the social work department needed to “figure out the cause of such neglect.”
The social worker explained that access had improved and the parents had shown an “ability to parent cohesively.”
He explained that telephone access had been suspended. There had been an incident at access where the mother became irate. She alleged that one of the female children was being abused and was not safe in her placement. She maintained that the child told her brother that her foster carer had inappropriately touched her. The social worker said that the alleged incident happened during “play session and the foster carer’s hand hit off the child’s bottom.”
The mother alleged that the child was told by her foster carers not to make any disclosures regarding the incident. She also said the child was worried about going to sleep. The child became upset by the mother’s behaviour and denied that she had made the allegations concerning her foster carers and indicated that she wanted to go to her foster carer. The social worker described the access as “traumatic” and said that the child was worried that the mother would be arrested.
The social worker said he met the children the following day and the child was “clear in her position that she is happy in her placement.” He maintained that the mother made such allegations in order to “upset the placement.” The mother later admitted that she “flew off the handle when the child said that she was touched and was afraid.” The social worker recommended that “reunification was not suitable until the parenting capacity assessment was done.”
The mother gave evidence and said that the home had been in a “poor state for a few months” due to the fact that she had broken her foot and “couldn’t do much.” She also said that her partner had attempted to take his own life. The mother acknowledged that she had refused the initial support offered to her but she said did not understand why the social work department “did not come out to visit the home on a weekly basis.”
The mother said that the children were exposed to the arguments. She said that “we have the same problems as any other family, they [the children] have heard us arguing once or twice but there were never any signs of abuse.”
The solicitor for the CFA told the mother that “the GAL, in his report, stated that the parents had no insight into the concerns of the CFA.”
The mother replied: “We have to keep on top of things, if something like this happened again, I‘d never get my kids back.”
The GAL gave evidence and explained that the children were placed together in pairs in three separate placements. He explained that the two male children, aged 11 and 6 years, had both settled into their placements “extremely well.” He said that the younger male child needed close supervision and responded well to a good routine. The child loved being with his brother but missed his sisters. He said that the older male child had “mixed feelings about what he wanted.” He explained that the child was happy in his placement but also wanted to return home. The child was anxious as he did not “want it to be like it was before.”
The GAL said that the two female children aged seven and nine years, were thriving in their placement. He said that the seven-year old child was “very attached to her foster carer” and loved attention. He explained that he saw the two youngest children, aged five and three, regularly. He described how one of the children became upset after access and was reluctant to go to further family access. The GAL commented that the “CFA have done well in getting things on track and moving well.” He explained that the parenting capacity assessment was moving well but that there were still “issues with the couple’s relationship and how they parent the children.”
The judge said that he was satisfied an Interim Care Order had been granted due to chronic neglect when “there was support provided which brought about improvements but which were not sustained.” He said that it was “regrettable that this reached the stage for the State to make the application.”
He continued: “The long term welfare of the children must take precedence. It is not simply a matter of not cleaning up a house, it is necessary to identify why this happened.” He remarked that the “condition of the house was a triggering factor, but that chronic neglect was the underlying issue.” The judge was satisfied that the grounds had been met to extend the Interim Care Order.