Care order for child whose mother deceased, no father identified – 2024vol1#24

A full care order was made for a child whose mother was deceased, and whose father was unknown. An attempt to establish the identity of a man as her father through DNA testing had resulted in him being ruled out.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) social worker described the health of the child and indicated that the child was having a number of medical appointments and reviews. She commented that the child would benefit from bereavement counselling in addition to play therapy and she confirmed that referrals had been made.

The social worker said the team thought the child would benefit from further socialising and efforts were being made to source a YAP (Youth Advocate Programme) worker for the child to get her out of the house and to help her develop her social skills.

In respect of the father, the court was told that someone had been identified as being the possible father but that the DNA tests did not match and no one else had come forward. The CFA solicitor asked the social worker if she would be willing to explore this further if someone else came forward and she said she would.

The court heard that the child had two other half siblings and that they lived with their fathers but she saw them regularly and had play dates and had been to the pantomime with them.

The social worker said that the child’s uncle understood the child’s needs and was in regular contact with the school. The child-in-care review was scheduled for the Spring.

Due to the mother’s death there were intestacy issues to be dealt with regarding the family home and the CFA solicitor said the solicitor dealing with the house had been in contact with him. The house was to be divided between the three children and a power of attorney was being discussed.

The solicitor for the GAL commended the social worker for the way she had interacted with the case and on the “lovely relationship she had with the child”. She said the GAL thought she had a great rapport with the child which was very visible and that she had greatly helped the girl since her mother had died.

The CFA confirmed that they were fully in support of the recommendations included in the GAL’s report.

The GAL agreed that she was supportive of a full care order and said that the order was both necessary and proportionate. She said she had met with the child in her placement and that she was a curious, friendly child. She was comfortable now with her uncle. The child was able to articulate her wishes and said she “missed her mammy”. She said she had a very lovely relationship with the social worker and that it was heartening to see.

On hearing the evidence and having read the reports available to the court the judge said he was satisfied the threshold was met and he made the care order to the age of majority with a review in summer 2028.

He listed the case for a further review in three months for the purpose of receiving confirmation regarding the administration of the mother’s estate and additionally to receive an update on the full fostering assessment.