Child with disabilities leaving foster care becomes ward of court – 2023vol2#52

A young man (A) aged 19, who was found to lack capacity and who had been in foster care since 2011 with one family, was made a ward of court. The foster family had indicated that they were not in a position to care for him after he turned 18 as they were already caring for his brother, but they did wish to remain involved in his life.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) report stated that she had discussed the application with A on five occasions, he agreed with it and acknowledged that he would need extra help and care as he moved into adulthood. The aftercare worker had met with the foster parents to see if it would be appropriate for them to be appointed as Committee for his wardship, but they did not wish to do so, and the General Solicitor had taken on the role instead.

The solicitor for the GAL said A knew he needed supports in managing his day-to-day life and finances, his concerns were the right to marriage and travel. She had said the court would help him in that regard. He agreed with the wardship proceedings, he knew he needed support. The court said it would take account of the relevant factors in relation to his wish to visit a specific EU country.

The GAL said the foster carers were only in a position to care for A and his brother until 2024, it was imperative there was aftercare planning in relation to his day-to-day placement. He had expressed clearly that he wished to remain in the same area. His GAL was willing to continue working with him as an independent social worker. Asked who would fund this, the court heard that usually one of the agencies would.

The solicitor for the HSE said that this was a case where the joint protocol (between the HSE and the CFA) would be triggered. Although A had a mild intellectual disability, he did not have a diagnosis of ASD.

Granting the application to make him a ward of court, the judge said he had a mild intellectual disability, he had been in a successful placement where his foster carers had done a really impressive job, reflected in A’s affection for them. They wished to continue to be involved with him. The judge was quite satisfied that A had been fully heard in this matter. His GAL had given him an easy-to-read guide on wardship. While he had some understandable reservations, he agreed with the wardship proceedings. Obviously the wardship regime would in time be phased out and he would be subject to the new ADMCA regime.

The medical reports had found that he was of unsound mind and unable to manage his affairs. Though he might make some improvements, it was unlikely he would be able to live independently without high levels of support. The judge was quite satisfied A had met the medical threshold and was suitable to be admitted to wardship.

There would have to be interagency collaboration in planning A’s future. The judge appointed the General Solicitor as Committee and the representative of the General Solicitor said she would be seeking to have the GAL appointed as the independent social worker and have her costs covered. The judge discharged her as GAL and appointed her as the independent social worker.

The matter was put back for mention.