This volume comprises 54 reports – 43 from the District Court and 11 from the High Court – of cases attended by Child Law Project reporters over the second half of 2023.
The majority of District Court cases attended concern applications for care and supervision orders (26 cases). Echoing previous volumes, key themes in these cases include parental mental health, addiction, homelessness and domestic violence. The absence from the child’s life of one or both parents is a striking feature in many reports. In eleven of the 26 reports, the child’s father was either not known to the Child & Family Agency (CFA or Tusla), not engaging in or not mentioned during the proceedings we attended, and in four cases the child had been abandoned by their mother. The level of vulnerability of these families is apparent in that in six cases, the parent was in prison or had recently left detention and in two others the mother had been in care during her own childhood.
Other cases relate to children already in care, including discussions on the appropriateness of the care placement and arrangements for aftercare and reunification. Many of the reports published today illustrate excellent work undertaken to care for and safeguard children, including possible child victims of trafficking.
Similar to its last volume published six months ago, in several reports published today the Child Law Projects continues to see concern and frustration on the part of the judiciary about failings in the care system.
As part of this volume, the Project is publishing a report on proceedings heard in 2021 in which the High Court heavily criticised the HSE for failing to meet the needs of a young girl with disabilities who spent nearly 60 days in a darkened room off a hospital A&E department as the HSE could not find her another placement.
Finally, the volume contains ten reports from the wardship list heard by the High Court. One report covers a High Court ruling on how to address Wards of Court who were the subject of detention orders, given that the new regime under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act did not provide for such orders.