Interim Care Order extended for child missing from secure care – 2014vol3#5

An extension of an Interim Care Order was granted on the consent of the mother in the District Court for a teenager with a mild intellectual disability who was missing from secure care.

The teenager, who had absconded from a hotel while out from the unit, had a previous history of running away during day trips. The court was told that he was now missing for six days and the Gardaí were actively searching for him. There had been no sightings of him, which was unusual, and he had not been found at any of the addresses he would usually abscond to. There had been a strategy meeting between the social work department and An Garda Síochána to plan the search for him.

A press release had been sent to the media by the Gardaí the previous day and a missing persons’ notice was put out. The CFA solicitor told the court that the press release did not mention that he was in care or in a care facility.

The social worker told the court that A had also been before the criminal courts and had been in juvenile detention for five months prior to his placement in secure care. He had also absconded from the criminal courts while at a hearing.

The teenager had had a brain bleed last year and needed post bleed assessment. He also had speech and language needs and poor impulse control, said the social worker. He was not capable of thinking through consequences of actions and when he absconded he would not return by himself.

“Everything that can be done is being done in respect of him being missing,” said the guardian ad litem. The CFA were complying with missing child in care protocols.

The guardian told the court that the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service (ACTS) team were to come back with a plan that would commence within one week of him returning. There was a neuropsychologist on that team who had assessed the child and found that A’s difficulties were not related to his brain injury, his needs were psychiatric and psychological, similar to the others in his secure care unit. The guardian said she was disappointed the interventions identified had not commenced over the previous four months, however the ACTS team would not assess A until his placement had been secured.

The CFA solicitor told the court that secure care facilities in Ireland did not have the capacity to provide services in areas such as brain injury. There was a limitation as to their broadness. Secure care provided a short term facility on the basis there must be a therapeutic rationale.

The CFA’s desired course of action was to have him treated in the UK and to avoid the development of relationships with counsellors. It had not been deemed appropriate to start therapies in Ireland. Secure care does not purport to provide specialist services in niche areas, said the CFA solicitor. An alternative has to be found, there was “a limitation of what the CFA could provide at the top end of injury type situations.”

A decision had been made in the High Court that A would not go to the UK, the teenager had also said he did not want to go there.