The District Court made care orders until the age of eighteen in respect of five children whose parents have addiction issues.
The court heard that the parents of the children struggled with chronic drug addiction and that the children had suffered serious neglect in their care dating back to 2006. The social worker told the court that the oldest child, A, was fearful whilst living in the home and that she was responsible for caring for her younger siblings. There was often no food or heating in the house and at one point the children did not attend school for several months.
A had witnessed her parents using drugs and had contacted the gardai and the social work department on several occasions. On one occasion the father was arrested. Eventually child A contacted the social work department and told them she was going to live with a family member until her parents were drug-free.
The social worker said that the social work department had made a visit in 2015 and the parents placed the children in the care of relatives under a private family arrangement. At that time the parents did not engage with the social work department nor did they attend access. The court heard that the parents had several prison sentences and in 2019 both parents were incarcerated.
At that time both parents were clean and cooperative, and they engaged with addiction services and the social work department attending all meetings and access. Access was increased in 2019 because of the parent’s engagement. However, the parents subsequently moved back in together after their release and then contact between the parents and the social work department deteriorated significantly.
The court heard at one point they could not be contacted in relation to serious issues regarding two of their children. The social worker told the court that the children had been in voluntary care for four years. She said that the principle of voluntary care was that the parents engaged and that the children’s needs were being met. She said that the parents were difficult to contact and they did not engage with the social work department.
The court heard that the children were all doing very well in their placements and that A had said that she was the happiest she had ever felt and that she strove to be a good example for her younger siblings. The guardian ad litem (GAL) told the court that A was remarkable and driven and it showed that she had been the main carer for her younger siblings.
Making care orders until the ages of 18 for all the children, the court said that the parents neglected the children to a great degree, that they continued on their destructive path, and that they failed to engage with the social work department.