17-year-old leaves care placement and returns to mother – 2017vol1#19

During a review of a Care Order for a 17 year old boy a District Court in a rural town heard the boy entered care in the summer of 2014 and had been placed in a care setting. However, the boy refused to stay in his care placement and returned home to live with his mother. He had since dropped out of school.

The court was informed that the boy’s situation remained unchanged since his case was last before the court. The social worker was present in court if required to give evidence but was not called. The solicitor for the CFA told the court that the boy was living at home with his mother and was not attending school. The child’s father had indicated that he did not want to engage in these proceedings.

The solicitor for the CFA said that it would not be appropriate to discharge the Care Order for the boy at this time. She said the CFA had no proper communication with the boy and sought to adjourn a review of the Care Order for three months as they did not want to discharge the order yet. The judge said this was a “very difficult case” given the boy’s age. He noted that the boy was engaging with the guardian ad litem (GAL) and that it was hoped that he would resume seeing another child care worker with whom he has previously engaged.

The judge agreed that there were “certain advantages” to keeping the boy under a Care Order until he turned 18 years. He commented that in reaching 18 years the boy might “turn a corner to his advantage”. The judge agreed to put the Care Order back for a further three months.

Three months later the case returned to the District Court, when the court heard the boy would turn 18 in six months’ time. The boy continued to live at home with his mother and was also refusing to talk to social work staff. He had indicated that he wants to leave Ireland for another European country and make money. The GAL provided an up-to-date report to the court. The GAL supported the view that that the Care Order should be extended till the boy turns 18 in order to ensure that he could avail of aftercare if he chose to engage.

The social worker gave evidence including commenting on an allegation that the boy’s mother was giving him money to buy marijuana. It was reported that the mother felt that if she stopped giving her son money to buy drugs money he would retaliate. He was described as “a very controlling character”, and it was alleged that the mother was afraid of him.

The solicitor for the mother said she was very concerned about the mother, who was quite a vulnerable person. The judge replied that the case that day was about the boy, concerns regarding the mother could be addressed in another route. The CFA solicitor said the mother and boy had a very dysfunctional relationship with the mother being part of the problem.

Recently, the social worker, accompanied by another worker, called to the boy’s house to visit him. Although the boy was in the house he refused to get out of bed to meet with the social worker. The judge expressed his understanding that there was a limit to what the social worker could do when she visited the boy’s home. The GAL met with him the day before the social worker attempted to meet him and the judge commented that it was very good that the GAL had a relationship with the boy. The GAL recommended that it was imperative that an aftercare worker be allocated to the boy.

The judge remarked that it was a “very sad case” of a child who was “placing himself at a major disadvantage and does want he wants”.

The CFA asked that the case be adjourned for a further three months. The judge granted this adjournment and did not discharge the Care Order. However, the judge added that he was not happy to just put in the case in for review, he wanted to see progress in relation to the development of an aftercare plan.