Child care review with ultimate aim of family reunification- 2022vol2#48

The judge in a rural town heard a review of the case of a primary school age boy who had been on a full care order for over a year. The court heard evidence from the Child and Family Agency (CFA) social worker that he was doing well with his foster placement. He was the only child with the foster family. He received much love and attention and was involved in lots of activities. The social worker also reported that the boy’s play therapist found he struggled with social cues. The child was on a waiting list for further assessment and might need help in school.

The social worker told the court there were concerns about the mother’s substance misuse and her presentation at weekly access. The judge said the child was doing well and the family was where attention was needed and asked the social worker what assistance the CFA were giving the mother.

The court heard support services had been put in place around domestic violence and community addiction services prior to the care order. Random urine tests with a HSE toxicologist were organised at the mother’s home. However, the mother did not co-operate. The social worker agreed with the mother’s solicitor in cross-examination that she would try random testing again with the mother if she consented. The solicitor told the court the mother was engaging with the community addiction service and the social worker agreed to link in with the service on her behalf. The mother was looking for increased access.

Judge: “It is important she gets every help and as much help and assistance [as she needs].”

Social worker: “Certainly, I can look at that at the next meeting.”

The judge said the ultimate aim was family reunification and this was a balancing act between increased access and reunification and the mother proving substance misuse was not an issue. “The case was 80 per cent there but there was a final bit,” he said.

The court ordered a further care order review in 12 months “so the mother could satisfy everyone the landscape had changed,” the judge said.