Care order granted for girl where mother has alcohol and drug problems – 2014vol1#21

A Care Order until 18 was granted in a provincial town where the court heard that the child had been moving house every few weeks and had been exposed almost constantly to drug misuse. The child had been placed in voluntary care two years previously. Two of the mother’s older children had already been taken into care.

The mother was not present in court but had legal representation. A guardian ad litem (GAL) had been appointed and supported the application for a Care Order until eighteen. The father was consenting to the Care Order being granted, but the mother opposed the granting of the order.

The solicitor for the HSE told the court that that for the first time in the little girl’s life she may be beginning to feel safe in a comfortable, warm and cosy home. The court heard that the girl’s development was delayed when she initially came into care. The HSE solicitor described the damage that can be done when access is set up between a child and her parents if the parents fail to show up. He said that this results in a cut on her ego as the child perceives herself as not being important. The solicitor pointed out, in urging the court to grant a Care Order, that granting such an order doesn’t prevent parents from addressing their issues and bringing an application to revoke a care order.

The GAL told the court that she believed a care order until eighteen was in the child’s best interests and that without it the girl would be very insecure. She said that it was crucial that the child was allowed to settle and have certainty and to get on with her life. The GAL also said that the granting of a Care Order did not rule out any future possibility of the child spending more time with her mum or dad through reviews with the social work department, particularly if the parents addressed their issues.

The court heard that the mother had been arrested and sentenced to a term of imprisonment and it was during this time that the girl was placed in the care of a relative. A social worker, who was supporting the application for a care order, said that the mother had been given ample opportunity to address her drug issues but had failed to do so.

The solicitor for the mother put it to a social worker that if a full Care Order was granted in respect of the little girl that in effect a door would be shut in terms of the mother’s access. The social worker replied that it would depend on how the mother responded. The solicitor suggested to the social worker that the granting of a Care Order would act as a huge obstacle to any future rapprochement. The social worker did not agree with this. The solicitor also posited that the way in which the HSE had handled the circumstances of the child coming into care had made the situation worse.

A social worker told the court that the little girl needed the security of knowing that she was under a Care Order until eighteen and that the child needed permanency and security.

The judge referred to a letter that the mother had sent him and read that letter into the court record. In that letter the mother begged the judge not to grant a Care Order in respect of her child. The judge, in granting the Care Order until eighteen, noted that the mother’ s heart was in the right place and while he felt sorry for the mother, the interests of the little girl were of paramount importance and it was in her interests to grant the care order until eighteen.

The judge placed the letter written by the mother on the court file and ordered that the letter be given to the girl when she reached eighteen years of age. The court also directed a review of the case to take place in two years.