Case Reports 2022 Volume 2 – Introduction

We publish below 62 reports of cases attended by the Child Law Project, mainly in the second half of 2022. Some of the cases are ongoing, others have concluded.

The majority of the 50 District Court cases published today concern applications for care orders. Key themes (as with previous volumes) include parental mental health, parental addictions, homelessness and domestic violence. This volume includes a small number of cases of separated children (unaccompanied minors) fleeing war and forced marriages. The remaining District Court cases concern proceedings relating to a child already in care, featuring discussions on securing assessments, therapies and appropriate placements; and agreeing access arrangements.

One of the District Court cases was unusual as it was our first time to witness proceedings under section 11 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018. The court granted an interim barring order against a man who was in custody but who was likely to be released back to the family home on bail the following day. The order was not sought by the man’s partner but by the Child and Family Agency – Tusla (CFA).

This volume also includes 11 High Court cases related to wardship proceedings and a composite report on High Court Special Care proceedings relating to 48 children heard over a 15-month period. The Special Care report highlights serious concerns expressed by the presiding judge in relation to difficulties in securing appropriate residential placements, the lack of specialised facilities and poor interagency working. These issues are also mirrored in many of the District Court cases published today.

The lack of step-down residential placements was noted by the presiding judge to be hindering the timely discharge of children from special care. A concern arises her that given that special care entails a deprivation of liberty and a delayed discharge may undermine the child’s progress or risk the child becoming institutionalised. The presiding judge noting that this problem has been going on for year, again relayed the court’s concerns to the CFA and commented he felt like a ‘stuck record’.”