We publish below 59 reports of cases attended by the Child Law Project, mainly in the first half of 2022. Some of the cases are ongoing, others have come to a conclusion.
Nearly half (24) of the cases involve applications to take a child into care due to parental neglect or abuse, often linked to parental mental health or addiction difficulties. A further seven cases relate to children who were in care due to their own emotional, behavioural and mental health issues. Ten focus on separated children (unaccompanied minors) who arrived in Ireland, often from war-torn countries. This includes one case of suspected child trafficking from the Ukraine. In twelve cases, the judge heard updates on how the child is getting on in care. A legal matter was in dispute in five of the cases, including one relating to the publication by the High Court of an earlier judgment dealing with the responsibility of the HSE for children with disabilities.
Concern about suitable residential and foster care placements arose as a theme in 14 of the cases. The impact on children of a shortage of placements is illustrated in several of the reports, including the case of a 14-year-old boy who was placed in a hotel. In another a teenage boy with complex needs was accommodated in a holiday home. In two cases, primary school age children were placed in residential care, contrary to the best practice principles. In two separate cases, children were in care but living with their respective fathers while awaiting residential placement. Another boy was facing at least a three month stay in an emergency placement while awaiting a vacancy in a residential unit.
Finally, this volume also contains a composite report of ten cases heard by the High Court in relation to wardship proceedings. In nine of the ten cases, the young person was either currently or recently in the care of the Child and Family Agency (CFA), and in the remaining case the young man was living in a residential disability service. The young people had a range of complex needs including issues with capacity and disabilities which made them very vulnerable. Two of the young people were non-verbal and had significant physical health needs.