A signed copy of an aftercare plan and a social work report were handed into the District Court in a rural town in the case of a girl with complex needs, including mental health issues.
The court heard that the teenager was currently in a residential facility. The girl had previously been in foster care, but the foster carers could not keep her safe due to self-harming issues. The teenager had been admitted to a mental health unit for six months. She had extremely high needs at times.
The child and adolescent unit where she was currently residing had received a six-month derogation for her to stay there for six months after she turned 18. In the meantime, supported accommodation was being looked at with a view to having her returned to school and to college.
The court was told that the teenager had complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as a language disorder and her IQ was low to normal. The court also heard that she had suffered early childhood trauma having been received into care at the age of four. There were serious concerns as allegations of sexual abuse had been posted on social media. The Gardaí had been involved in the investigations and had reviewed allegations made against the girl’s family. After some time the Gardaí retrieved the teenager’s laptop and discovered that the teenager had actually created the messages herself and set up her own profiles in relation to the abuse.
The court was told that the teenager had the support of a psychologist. She was on a restricted school timetable and attended school between 11:00 and 16:00 daily.
A psychological assessment had been carried out in 2021. The court heard that she presented as a very vulnerable and immature person who needed daily support. She had been assigned an aftercare worker and a report detailing the aftercare services was available to the court. It was envisaged that she would engage in adult mental health services and the aftercare worker, social worker and guardian ad litem (GAL) would all remain allocated to her for a number of months.
The court was told that the teenager recently had had an access visit with her aunt and grandmother on a supervised basis and that had gone very well. She had not had any contact with her mother for some time and was currently unsure about contact with her mother.
The solicitor for the mother asked if contact with the mother had been discussed with the psychologist the social worker said yes. The social worker was asked whether it had been explained to the teenager that her mother dearly wanted to have contact with her and she said it had. It was noted that the mother had her own difficulties.
The solicitor for the mother asked what support could be offered to both the mother and the teenager regarding access. The social worker said they would be happy to facilitate and supervise it. The teenager had curiosities about her family. She said the mother and daughter had had phone access in the past.
The solicitor for the GAL indicated that the GAL had not attended that day’s court hearing, but considered that the situation was bleak. Wardship had been canvassed but the teenager was not suitable for it. There were concerns that the teenager fell between a number of stools. She wanted independent living but was not able to do it. The GAL indicated that it would be difficult to see where the accommodation would be.
In conclusion the judge said he hoped the girl would not be forgotten about.