A judge in a provincial town granted a care order for two years for a primary school aged boy where the mother and child were living together in a placement with relatives.
The mother was legally represented and present in court. The father was not in court and there was no representation on his behalf. The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) assured the court he had made every effort to contact the father. He had told the father of the application, had written to him at his address and the address of his parents. The judge was assured the father knew of the application and said she was happy to hear the application in his absence.
Evidence was heard from the social worker who said the boy was doing well. He was fully integrated into the family and community. The foster placement was meeting all his needs. She had no concerns about any difficulties between his foster parents and his mother. They were some difficulties but no more than any other family. He was doing well at school and the family valued education. She said she had been in contact with the school and the school had no concerns. He loved doing homework.
The guardian ad litem (GAL) gave evidence that she had met with the boy, the mother and foster carers and the situation was working very well for the benefit of the boy. The home was very welcoming and warm. She said the placement permitted the mother to return to education and the placement was ideal. She said she supported the application because it gave the foster carers and the mother a structure and framework to guide them, this in turn gave the boy security and stability.
The judge said she had read the reports and was delighted that such an arrangement had worked so well not only for the benefit of the boy but also the mother. She granted a section 18 care order for two years and said she would make all the usual directions.
Usual directions mean that the social workers must inform the court or re-enter the matter before the court should anything unplanned happen such as a placement breakdown, there is no allocated social worker, or no allocated foster care support worker. The judge spoke to the mother and wished her every success.