Care orders for teenagers who had experienced neglect, emotional abuse and exposure to violence – 2023vol1#36

A judge in a provincial town granted full care orders for two children until 18 years of age following a lengthy and fully contested case. This matter has been previously reported by the Child Law Project in case reports 2022 volume two, case 39.

The case concerned an application for full care orders for two children, a girl (A) and a boy (B), both in their teenage years, under section 18 of the Child Care Act 1991. Both parents were in court, each had their own legal team, a solicitor and barrister. Both parents fully contested the applications. Evidence was heard from two social workers, the guardian ad litem (GAL), a parenting capacity assessor and both parents.

At the start of the hearing the mother’s barrister asked the court to adjourn the hearing, because the girl placement had broken down. The children had been in the same placement with a family member but there had been a significant altercation between A and the foster carer, where A had assaulted the foster carer.

She said that given those new circumstances, the fact that the parenting capacity assessment had taken place over one year ago, and the breakdown of the foster placement, the applications were premature. She said it was necessary for there to be further assessments of the situation before the hearing of any section 18 application and the parents would consent to an extension of the interim care order.

In response the solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said that these children had been in the care of the CFA for over two years, they needed certainty, security and stability. He said the date for this application had been especially fixed and it would be months before the court could allocate another date. Despite the breakdown of the foster placement, another placement had been secured and the hearing could proceed.

The judge asked for the GAL’s view and the solicitor for the GAL said that the GAL was anxious the matter be heard. The issue of the placement had been bought to the courts’ attention and while it was part of the section 18 hearing it was also a separate issue. The court was told that a placement breakdown could happen at any time for many reasons but that a placement breakdown was not a reason to delay the section 18 hearing.

The judge said she would proceed with hearing the application for the following reasons: dates for these hearing were very hard to secure, the issue of placement would not affect the threshold that had to be met to grant an order and the management of a placement would be an ongoing responsibility of the CFA.

Evidence of the current social worker

The current social worker stated she had been allocated to the children for the last six months. The children had been known to social services since 2010 as there had been issues of domestic violence. In or around 2010 there had been input to support the family by the CFA. The children had been admitted and removed from the children protection register. There had been a significant period where the concerns had lessened and the children had not come to the attention of the CFA. She said she thought this was due to the fact the father had departed the family home. However, since in or around 2017 concerns had been raised again and the children were admitted into care in 2021. She said the children presented very differently.

The girl had two very different profiles. From the parents view she was and always had been bold, defiant and troublesome. She had always been difficult to parent. From the professionals’ point of view she was a broken child because of the experiences she had had to date. The girl had been vocal about her experiences and the social worker thought she had been made the scapegoat of the family. All the ills of the family were attributed to the girl.

A had self-harmed, disengaged from school, had suicidal ideation and had taken an overdose. She had been referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). She said when A had been younger, she had refused to leave school because she did not know what she would face when she returned home. A had said she had been self-harming from when she was in junior infants.

The social worker said that A knew instinctively this type of parenting was wrong but was powerless. The recent breakdown of her placement was just another presentation of the torment of her life. She said she attributed A’s presentation to her childhood experiences.

The social worker had said that currently A had given her [the social worker] the following options: she would not go back to school, she wanted to return to her home county and that if these things did not happen she would run away or self-harm. The social worker said the current plan for A was her emotional well-being and this had to be the priority. She said the girl was currently very fragile, easily triggered and prone to violent outbursts. The social worker had worked with A to try to keep her as stable as possible and all supports had been offered to her.

The boy had cocooned himself, he kept out of the way of any familial argument or disagreement. The boy had tended to bury himself in his Xbox and removed himself from any conflict. The social worker said this remained the situation even today. B had also been physically chastised but to a much lesser degree than A.

She said that B had struggled with a learning disability unrelated to intelligence. Although it had been investigated and referrals had been made when he was younger this had never been advanced. He had never received any therapy or assistance for it. Now he was reluctant to engage in any assessment or therapy and would be annoyed when it was even discussed.

She said that B’s general practitioner had referred him for a neurological assessment. His mother had only recently disclosed that as a baby B had had neurological investigations. She said that section 47 applications had to be made to dispense with the parents’ consent for the boy to receive any assessment. These issues should have been addressed years ago as now they had impacted on his social development. He was isolated from his peer group, he struggled in school academically and with certain ordinary day to day tasks. She said had interventions been made earlier these may not have been a problem now. She said B refers to himself very negatively and despairingly. The learning disability, apart from the physical problems, had now troubled him emotionally and had affected his self-image.

The social worker said that two children had a fractured relationship, but this was a reflection of the family division. She said that B had said to her he hated A. When she had challenged B saying that hate was a very strong word, B had replied: “Hate is a very strong feeling.” The social worker said that A and B had been treated completely differently. Both parents had been abusive to A which had been witnessed by B, it was name calling, physical discipline and violence. A had defended herself and fought back. B had just removed himself from the situation.

She said that the children had been having supervised access with their parents once weekly, but it had broken down. A professionals’ meeting had been scheduled to review this.

She said the parents had no insight into the effects their parenting had had on the children. They had not denied physical discipline to both children, but refused to accept that it was unreasonable or that the level of discipline used had been unacceptable. They did not link A’s actions to their behaviour. The parents’ view was that A was just a bold child. She said: “Everyone in the family was unhappy.” The parents lacked any empathy or understanding of what life was like for their children. She said that A had said at times her mother would tell her to go and kill herself.

A parenting capacity assessment had been completed which had recommended full care orders until both children were 18 years of age. The parenting capacity assessor had said the children should never be returned to the parents. The assessor had said this because of the history, the difficulties of the parents in engaging with any services, the toxic relationship of the parents, and despite the children being on the radar of the CFA for over 10 years there had been no change.

She said the results of the parenting capacity assessment had been shown and discussed with the parents. However, the parenting capacity assessor said she would be happy to review her assessment in two years if the parents had engaged or began to address her concerns. These concerns centred on the lack of insight either parent had as to the psychological and emotional damage the children had suffered. The parenting capacity assessment had recommended individual and joint therapies for the parents but neither had engaged with any of the recommendations.

The social worker acknowledged that the mother’s health had deteriorated, especially in recent months. However, the mother had refused to allow the social worker to contact any member of her medical team for updated information. She said this made bad things worse. Although the children had been harmed by their upbringing, the children remained worried and concerned for their mother. They had been left in limbo as they had not been told of their mother’s prognosis or long-term outcome.

The social worker told the court there were ongoing investigations by An Gardai Siochana regarding the abuse and the allegations the children had made. She said she believed that the threshold for a full care order until the children were aged 18 had been reached. If the children were to be returned to the care of their parents they would continue to be harmed.

The social worker was cross examined at length, firstly by the father’s barrister and then the mother’s. She was also crossed examined by the GAL solicitor.

The father’s barrister said that it had been unfair to say that there had been ongoing concerns for over a decade. The father’s barrister said that there had been no CFA involvement with the family from 2011 until 2019, that the children had been removed from the child protection register and progress had been made. The father had engaged in therapy. He had accepted that the level of physical chastisement had been unacceptable and recognised the difficulties it had caused.

In response the social worker said the father had assaulted his wife in front of the children. He had kicked and punched A repeatedly. The father’s barrister continued and said that he [the father] was willing to do whatever it would take to have his children home. He [the father] accepted all the recommendations of the parenting capacity assessment. He would engage with any recommended services and he would assure the court of that in his evidence.

The mother’s barrister asked why had the mother not been informed of the latest breakdown of A’s placement. The social worker replied that this placement breakdown had been a very recent event. She had tried to call the mother but there had been no response.

She said there had been a significant assault which had happened after the most recent access and a telephone call that the mother had had with A. Access was on hold as it was the belief of the professionals involved that the access visit and telephone contact had been a contributing factor to the placement breakdown. She said everyone had been upset, A, B and the foster carer. A had lashed out in a significant burst of anger but the foster carer accepted that it was not anger but sadness. She said the foster carer had not wanted the foster placement to end as it had. The social worker said the foster carer said she just did not have the skills to manage A when she was like this.

The mother’s barrister said to the social worker that B had done well in school and his primary school reports showed no adverse issues and he played football. She [the mother’s barrister] said the mother had taken B to neurologists when he was younger. The mother suffered from a similar learning disability and had been worried it was genetic, so she had had B fully investigated and there had been no issues. B had attended a speech and language therapist three time when he was younger, but again he had been discharged. The mother had not been informed of any referrals or of any assessments from speech and language therapists (SLT) or occupational therapists (OT) and neither therapist had contacted either parent.

The social worker said that she had not contacted B’s junior school as it was his senior school that had raised the concerns. The senior school had suggested the referrals be made. The school had informed her that B struggled significantly. She said she had been appointed to the case six months earlier and had been shocked by B’s speech and presentation. She said that he spent a great deal of time on the computer. She had only recently been told of the possible genetic link and was supportive of a full assessment of B to ascertain what help and therapies he might need. However, she said it was difficult as B repeatedly said he was normal and there was nothing wrong with him.

She said B would benefit from a global assessment and the CFA would be committed to ensuring any recommendations would be implemented. The social worker said that she had applied to the courts three times for consent for referrals to various therapists because the parents would not consent. She said the parents knew about the referrals but acknowledged they might not know about the assessments. She would ensure going forward that the parents were kept informed of all assessments and referrals.

The mother’s barrister said the mother had been open with the children about her illness and health problems. The children had lived with the mother for many years and knew her difficulties. The social worker replied: “That is just not true, the children constantly ask me about their mother’s health and I have no answer to give them. Their mother will not give me information about her health and she will not permit me to contact her doctors.”

The social worker continued that she did not want to invade the mother’s privacy but she just wanted an agreed narrative to tell the children. She wanted to support the children and in the worse case scenario help prepare them. She said she also wanted to ensure that the children were not living on a knife’s edge as had happened in a access application. (See volume 2 of 2022 Case 39)

The mother’s barrister said that B had consistently said that he wanted to return to his parents and it was his wish that a full care order not be granted. B wanted to return to his home. The social worker said that she had seen texts from his mother to B’s phone where she [the mother] had told B to tell the social workers that he wanted to return home. She said that in all her dealings with B he had never said that to her. The most she could say was that he was ambivalent about returning home. She said: “He [B] was not treated as badly as [A] was but that might be different if [A] was not there to take the blame.”

The solicitor for the GAL asked the social worker why, when the GAL had recommended an OT referral and assessment as far back as one year ago, it had not happened. The social worker replied that previously the parents had not been supportive and it had been necessary to apply to the court to dispense with the parents’ consent. There were waiting lists and it had been difficult to find an occupational therapist to undertake the assessment. The solicitor asked the social worker to confirm that she would ensure that any and all assessments for B would be shared with the parents and school going forward. The social worker confirmed this. The social worker also confirmed that if the public waiting lists were extensive then funding would be sourced for private therapy.

The solicitor for the GAL asked what efforts had been made by the CFA to offer the parents the supports recommended in the parenting capacity assessment. The social worker replied that the CFA had offered counselling and parenting courses but the mother’s health had deteriorated, which had caused any progress to stall. The social worker said both A and B had been made aware of the recommendations in the parenting capacity assessment. A had been pessimistic and had said her parents would not engage. B had been annoyed that his parents had not engaged.

The judge asked the social worker: “Have either parent asked for help or supports with the parenting capacity assessment recommendations?”

The social worker: “No.”

Evidence of the previous social worker

This social worker had been the children’s social worker from their reception into care in 2021 until their care was transferred to the current social worker in late 2022. She said she had reviewed all the previous files and referrals, they had made the most uncomfortable reading.

She said historically the parents struggled with their marriage from the beginning. There was history of an inability to communicate and domestic violence. The children had been exposed to violence. There had been referrals and allegations of abuse but the parents refused to accept there was any merit to these. The parents completely denied that their relationship had any effect on the children.

The social worker said the difficulties before the court today were exactly the same as when she had made the application for an interim care order in 2021. There had been no change. She said: “There has been no meaningful engagement, no acknowledgement of the neglect, emotional abuse, exposure to violence, absolutely no acknowledgement that the parents should or ought to have apologised to the children, no insight into the psychological harm that has been caused to the children and I could go on and on.” The social worker said apart from the violence there had been name calling, mocking, derision and put downs.

The social worker said that when children are referred to the CFA a safety and risk assessment is made on a scale of 0-10. A score of 10 means there are no safety concerns for the children and a score of zero means the children have absolutely no safety. She said a score of 0-3 would indicate children are in need of a court protection order, either an interim order or an emergency order. A score of 3-5 would suggest there are significant child safety or protections concerns and the child’s name should be entered onto the child protection register. A score of upwards of 5 would suggest there are concerns for the family but with the appropriate supports and guidance they would reach a score of 10.

She said that in all her time working with this family, the safety score for A and B never went above zero. This score was predominated by the lack of insight of the parents and no acknowledgement of the harm that had been done to the two children. She said: “These children have been denied, no they have been robbed, of a childhood, their lives were simply quite shocking.”

The effect on A was that she self-harmed and became destructive, the effect of B was that he withdrew into himself. This social worker was also disturbed by the blame that was attributed to A by the whole family for all the problems and the involvement of social services in their lives. B was taught to believe that A was a problem child and if she just behaved everything would be well, this justified the punishment she was subjected to.

She said she had recommended a reduction in access when she had been the social worker as A had found access difficult. She said A felt her father always put on a show and his concern and interest in her was fake. She had been saddened to hear that there had been no change in that. She said when she had supervised access there had been no empathy, no warmth and the conversation centred on the family cats or information technology (IT).

The father’s barrister said that the father had acknowledged his actions. She said that he [the father] had been open and honest about his failings. The social worker replied that was not her experience. The social worker said when she had been working with the father he had always tried to justify his actions. He showed no remorse and no empathy.

She said during 2021 there had been eight referrals about violence. She said that while the children were not subject to care orders there had always remained concerns about the level of violence. Safety networks had been activated with family and friends but they had never worked. This might have improved for a very short time that gave A some respite but then it had returned to their normal. It had been noted that the children had been entered onto the child protection register three times. This demonstrated periods of improvement and positivity as the children’s names were removed from the child protection register but it never lasted.

Evidence of the parenting capacity assessor

The parenting capacity assessor stated her qualifications for the court. She said that her appointment had been agreed between the parties and she had been given agreed terms of reference. She said that she had undertaken intelligent quotient (IQ) tests on both parents and attachment assessments. She had met with the parents three times. She had met with the children once individually and once together. She had observed one access for one and half hours in a CFA building. She said the parents had engaged with the process.

The parenting capacity assessor said there was unequal physical, emotional and cognitive capacity between the parents. They had a co-dependent relationship that was toxic. They confirmed domestic violence in their relationship, but each stated this had had no effect on the children. She said she found little if any empathy in the relationship. She was aware what had been written in her report must have been difficult to hear but repeated it was a toxic relationship.

She said the mother had significant physical disabilities and she was dependent on the father as her carer. The mother had a tendency to depression which was understandable given her physical illnesses and condition. She had low average verbal and perceptual reasoning but she had attended college.

Her physical condition had slowly caused debilitation because of that she had been unable to complete the processing speed tests. The parenting capacity assessor said the mother was particularly vulnerable. She was dependent on the father for assistance with her daily living activities, such as hygiene care and mobilization. It was a highly stressed relationship.

The father was bright, had a high IQ and perceptual reasoning scores. He acknowledged a harsh upbringing with physical abuse but showed no insight into the effects it had had or any trauma he might have suffered as a result of that upbringing. The father had not fully engaged with a men against violence course and as a result was not fully open to change. When challenged he had still not acquired the skill to remove himself or a child from a potentially violent situation. He had not learned in any therapy he had undertaken to move from an authoritarian to negotiation style of communication, which was a critical skill for parenting a teenager.

She said there was no style to their attachment. Their style of communication was authoritative and neither parent was able to negotiate. There was acrimony, raised voices and then there would be violence by both parents. One parent would initiate the violence and the other would retaliate. There was a fundamental need for control. Every single, everyday issue could not be resolved without conflict which escalated to violence. They lacked any ability to understand emotional safety, security or validation. They had a profound lack of attachment with their children and a complete lack of insight.

The parenting capacity assessor said that people confused attachment with bonding, and they were not the same thing. She said that bonding was the emotional connection a parent feels with a child. Attachment was completely different, attachment was the emotional security a child felt with their parents.

A’s narrative was that her father was a violent bully that she had stood up to and came off worse. She said her father needed to control everything and the only way was his way. The parenting capacity assessor said that A’s natural style was to meet everything head on and of course in this household that could only lead to conflict. A was living in a constant flight or fight mode. This mode was exhausting and prevented normal development.

She said when a person was living in constant tension as A must have been all areas of development would have been thwarted. A was the scapegoat but she had modelled her behaviour on what she had witnessed. She said A self-harmed from a young age, expected to be punished, had learnt not to care about consequences because she would have been blamed irrespective of any culpability on her part. A was assigned and attributed to herself the role of villain.

The parenting capacity assessor said that B’s style was to close-down and ignore it. She said the child had been very successful with this approach. However, she believed there was no doubt B was traumatised. He was silent, hid any feelings and avoided conflict at any cost. He had low self-esteem. He had seen what had happened to his sister and he had been able to protect himself. He also blamed his sister for the difficulties.

She said that B had no understanding of why he had been admitted to care and wanted to return to his parents. She believed the reasons for this was because he had ignored, buried and hidden any feeling. Part of it was also to avoid conflict, he would agree with his mother, his father, the social worker and the parenting capacity assessor.

She said she had observed one access and there was no communication between the parents, no communication between A and B and no communication between A and B and their parents. She said the whole conversation centred on the family cats, they had nothing else to say to each other. There was no conversation about school, friends, television programmes or any reference to anything familial. She said it was terrible.

She said she saw no evidence that the parents could ever respond to any of the children’s emotional needs and she doubted if they had ever been able to. She said: “I cannot begin to describe the chasm between how the mother sees these kids and how these kids actually are.”

She said given what she had assessed, she had recommended full care orders until the children were 18 but that she would be open to a review in two years if the parents engaged and undertook all of her recommendations. She said that she had recommended no access between the parents and A and B together during this time, but A and B should have separate accesses with their parents. She said that it was her understanding none of her recommendations had been completed and because of that she recommended a full care order.

She was crossed examined by the barristers for the father, the mother and the GAL.

The father’s barrister said the father had engaged with her recommendations. He had attended counselling, he had completed the men against violence programme and progress had been made. The father’s barrister also said that it was unfair and disingenuous on the part of the assessor to say no progress had been made when the mother had been so unwell.

The assessor said it was good he had engaged but engagement was the start of the process and from what she had seen there had been no development, no progress and no change. There had to be a capacity to change. The father had to demonstrate this change to his children and also that this change could be sustained.

The father’s barrister also stated that the access worker had been present at the last four access and her report was in stark contrast to her [the parenting capacity assessor’s] report. The access worker’s report had stated that the access was warm, positive, the parents had engaged with A and B.

The assessor responded by saying whilst she was pleased access had improved, she was only able to comment on the access she had seen and the access she had seen was terrible.

The father’s barrister repeated that her recommendations for access were not supported by the evidence but the parenting capacity assessor refused to change her evidence. She [the assessor] repeated that she witnessed no empathy, no warmth, and a profound lack of attachment. She said: “The father needs to recognise the damage that has been caused and apologise to these children, this comes from understanding and acknowledging how the children feel and he does not. He bears no responsibility and avoids any culpability.”

The mother’s barrister said the mother had a good relationship with her children particularly B. She said that B had expressed the wish to return home to the mother on numerous occasions. The assessor said that B had never said that to her. She repeated the mother was vulnerable and it was important she received independent therapeutic interventions based on her own needs, but also to help her identify and be able to see the needs of the children.

Evidence of the mother

The mother had been in attendance in court, however because of her mobility issues she had not been able to enter into the witness stand. The mother also had some degree of speech difficulty. The judge reminded the mother there was no rush and to take her time to ensure that the court heard and understood what she had said.

The mother gave evidence from her seat in the court room. The mother said she knew there had been violence but that had stopped, yet the social workers had still stopped the access. She said she had attended a parenting course in 2020 but no other courses or help had been offered by the CFA. She said that she had told the children of her illness but if A and B remained in the care of the CFA she was happy for the CFA to contact her doctors. She would agree any narrative about her condition the CFA proposed.

She wanted to see her children. She knew A had been moved but had not been informed of where she had been moved to. She said that B constantly asked her when he could come home. She said it was B’s ardent wish that he be returned home. The mother stated that she would ensure that B attended all appointments for any therapy or assessment that was recommended.

The mother was not cross examined.

Evidence of the father

The father said he admitted there had been violence in the parents’ relationship but that it was now over. He said: “It’s not right they can say I don’t acknowledge things. I do, I apologise for where the children are and I will apologise to them again if I have to.” The father said he would do whatever he had to for the children to be returned home. He said that he was regretful of the way he had acted. He said A knew and accepted that.

He had attended his GP, had started counselling and had undertaken an anger management course. He was willing to follow any recommendations of the parenting capacity assessment. He had undertaken a parenting course but would do as many as the social workers wanted him to do. He had been concerned about the lack of information he had received about his children. He said while he acknowledged that A might not want to return home, B definitely wanted to return.

The father was cross examined by the solicitor for the CFA who said: “While your willingness today is welcomed is this not a little bit too little too late?”

The father replied: “No, it is never too late.”

The solicitor for the CFA said that neither child wanted to return home, that the children had been damaged by their experiences at home and to put that right they needed stability, security, emotional warmth and understanding which was something neither parent could offer. The father vehemently disagreed with the solicitor for the CFA. He repeated his assurance he would undertake what ever the social workers and the parenting capacity assessment had recommended.

Evidence of the GAL

The GAL said this was her fourteenth report and she was supporting the application for full care orders. She said the children were unbelievably resilient considering their experience. She said the children knew their mother had significant health issues but did not fully understand what the issues were. She said she welcomed what she had heard from the mother in court today and would be happy to help create a narrative for the children. She had asked the children about access at their family home, B had been positive but was also reluctant in equal measure. A was not positive, she said she would like to see the cats rather than her parents.

A was social, had a good group of friends and loved her sport. Until recently the girl had done very well. She said A had been open about what her life had been like, she had been treated quite differently to her brother. That difference had begun to manifest now.

The incident that had led to the placement breakdown had started as disagreement about getting up for school and had just escalated. The foster carer was assaulted and A had been placed in a temporary placement but a long-term placement had been identified. It was hoped that she would move there imminently. She said A had done well in school and although she had not attended school for the last week, the school was very anxious she return. She was a bright girl and had huge potential. The GAL was anxious that A was protected.

There had been specialist Garda interviews with A one year ago but there had been no further information from the gardai. The GAL had asked the social worker to ascertain the status of the investigation but had not heard anything as of the court’s date.

The GAL said she wondered if A moving placement might be a good thing, given the level of resentment that B had towards his sister. She said that it might actually be good for A to be removed from all her family for a while, and therefore as a placement for A had been found she did not think it was a total disaster that the placement had broken down. She said that when she had asked A about her wishes A had made it clear she did not want to return home and at present was ambivalent about access.

B was quiet, shy, loved Xbox and lacked confidence. He was guarded, compliant and protective of his parents. She said she was aware that B had had some difficulty with fine motor skills and co-ordination. She said she had repeatedly asked for an OT assessment. The boy had attended an assessment but the assessment was geared towards very young children and this had upset B greatly. He found it difficult to accept that he had any problems and this assessment had not been helpful.

B needed an assessment that was targeted for older children or teenagers. She said B remained exceptionally angry with his sister. She had asked him about his wishes and he had said that he wanted to return home and go back to school. She said he had shown her the text messages he had received from his mother. The GAL said it was her opinion that he was being coached by his mother. When she had spoken to him about remaining in his foster placement, he demonstrated more enthusiasm.

She said she welcomed the assurances of the parents that they were fully committed to completing all the recommendations of the parenting capacity assessment but the children’s needs were the paramount consideration. She recommended a full care order for both children until they were 18. She said it was necessary and proportionate.

She said that she hoped that A would be able to avail of the new long-term placement, that it would be successful and meet her needs. She said that until that was secured, she could not recommend any access. She hoped the professionals meeting to discuss access would formulate an access plan, but this meeting had be cognisant of the different needs of the two children.

Submissions of the father

The father’s barrister said that he was a committed father, who had made mistakes. She added that while not put into evidence there had been text messages from B to his parents saying that he wanted to return home. The father had been open and honest about his failings. He had started to address them as best he could. He had apologised to his children and he regretted his actions. He had given every assurance to the court of his willingness to do whatever he had to, to have his children returned. She said that a care order was neither necessary nor proportionate.

She said a supervision order would permit the CFA access to the children at their home and be sufficient to allay the CFA’s concerns. She reminded the court it had to make the least order proportionate to the issue.

Submissions of the mother

The mother’s barrister said that B had clearly made his wishes known and he wanted to return home. She said that a supervision order would ensure that the CFA could have every confidence that his needs would be met. The mother had assured the court that B would attend all appointments. She said the mother had acknowledged her errors but was willing to implement all the recommendations of the parenting capacity assessment.

There were no submissions from the solicitor for the CFA or the GAL.

The judge said he would rise and take some time to consider his decision.

The decision

The judge said that he had heard the evidence of two social workers, the parenting capacity assessor, the GAL, the mother and the father. He was satisfied that a supervision order was not appropriate. He said the threshold for section 18(1)(b) and (c) had been met and it was proportionate.