ECO for teenager who reports mother to Gardaí – 2014vol4#5

A teenage girl who went to a Garda station by herself to make a complaint about her mother was taken into care under an Emergency Care Order. This was one of a number of orders made and reviews heard in a District court in a provincial city in one afternoon.

The girl was present in court for an update on the Emergency Care Order. The court heard that the mother of the girl had mental health difficulties as well as problems with alcohol. The girl had walked into a Garda station to make a complaint about her mother but was told by Gardaí to come back with an adult. The court heard that the girl’s father was not a part of her life.

The judge, on hearing that the girl was turned away by the Gardai, directed the CFA to write to An Garda Síochána to point out the difficulty in telling the girl to come back with an adult. The girl was formally joined as a party to the proceedings and was appointed a solicitor. The judge explained the meaning of an Emergency Care Order to the girl and told her that the CFA would be looking to apply for an Interim Care Order and that her mother may or may not be resisting the application.

The girl told the court that she was doing well in her foster placement but that she was not currently attending school. She said that she was afraid that if she attended her mother would turn up at the school. The judge was told that the mother was currently in a psychiatric unit in hospital and was “very annoyed” to find out about the proceedings and was refusing to speak to social workers.

The judge said that when the application for the Interim Care Order was being served he wished to see someone in court who could assure him as to the mother’s competence and noted that if he was not satisfied he may direct that personal service of the application be effected.

In another case a review was heard of a boy in care who had recently been taken into a residential centre as he had been involved with the police and his mother feared that he would get into more trouble.

In a separate review the court heard that a teenage girl, in respect of whom there was a Care Order in place, was behaving very badly. The judge was told that she would be better going into a supported lodging and that there was one in mind that was being offered. The judge asked whether the girl was told that she could come into court and was assured that she had been. The judge asked for another update in four months time.

In another review of a Care Order the girl, who was present in court, expressed her disappointment that her mother was not in court. The court heard that the mother was not attending access, nor was she answering phone calls. The social worker said that she had strong concerns that there had been a relapse with regard to her drinking.

The court heard that the girl had not met her father in a long time but she would like to be involved in family occasions. She had a good relationship with her social worker and the social worker was confident that the girl would talk to her if she needed to. The judge was told that the girl was doing well overall, she had a good relationship with her foster carers and had good access with her mother up to four weeks ago.

The mother’s solicitor told the judge that when he spoke to his client she was adamant that she was not drinking but had asked him to look for an adjournment. The father’s solicitor told the court that he was sober and engaging with a new counsellor and felt that he had come some way and wanted to re-engage with social services. The CFA solicitor told the court that the girl had asked her to tell the court that she had been threatened by her father in the past. The judge told the court that he was very impressed by the young girl.

During a review of a Care Order for two boys the court was told that they were doing well but one of them had some behavioural difficulties. The court heard that the boy was receiving support from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and that there had been some improvements. There were some concerns about the foster parents, the court heard. The foster parents could be over-protective at times and the children were not given much free time. The social worker said that these concerns had been discussed with the foster family.

A review took place of a Care Order concerning a 16 year old girl who was not in court. Things had been bumpy but the child had settled, the court was told. The judge was told that the foster parents were very committed and that the girl was doing well in school and her relationship with her father seemed to be positive. The judge asked the social workers present in court whether the issue of mentor supports had been addressed and gave the matter a date for mention in four months’ time.

In another review of a Care Order the court heard that the boy in question was very introverted. When the Judge was told that the boy was learning to play the guitar and liked watching music and cookery programmes on DVD, he asked how much a portable DVD player would be for the boy. The judge was told the approximate cost of a DVD player and he made an order that a DVD player be bought and DVDs for cookery and guitar be given to the boy. The judge specified that the money for the DVD player should be given to the boy directly and he should be sent out with money to buy it.

A short review of a Care Order was heard in relation to a girl whose foster brother had committed suicide. The court was told that supports were offered to her and that her statutory Child in Care review had indicated that she was happy.

A Care Order was granted on consent in another matter and the CFA agreed to place the child with her grandmother who was acting as foster carer. The judge commented that the fact that the relationship with the grandmother had been sustained was very good.

Another review of a child in care took place. A social worker told the court that the situation in the foster home had escalated and the child had gone to respite care.
The foster parents loved the child and missed him and wanted him to be at home with them. The CFA solicitor told the court that the boy was doing well in respite and that he was not reacting in respite in the same way he did at home with his foster parents. The court heard that the boy was attending a music therapist who is also a psychotherapist.

A Care Order was re-entered as a boy who had been due to go into residential care could not be accommodated as there was no space for him. The judge pointed out that if a space could not be found for the boy he would soon get into trouble.

A separate Care Order was re-entered for a mother and her baby who were in a residential centre. There was a lack of trust between the mother and the social worker, the court was told. The mother’s solicitor said that the mother felt that she was always the last to know information about her case.

The judge asked the mother to write out the times she felt she had been let down by the social worker. He went on to say that the parties could then identify where the issues might be and it might be possible to identify either improvements in the social worker’s efforts or the mother’s efforts at communication.