Consent to extension of interim care order, full care order to be contested – 2023vol2#15

The Dublin District Court extended an interim care order for a young girl whose mother was suffering from significant substance abuse problems. The child’s mother, who was present in the court, consented to the 28-day extension, but indicated she intended to contest the Child and Family Agency (CFA) application for a full care order as she was engaging in drug treatment. The father was not present or represented.

The child, who had been taken into care the previous month, had been appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL). The GAL had not been able to meet her prior to this court date, but it was expected that the GAL would meet the child before the next court date.

The CFA’s solicitor told the court that the child’s mother had recognised that she had work to do to address her substance abuse problems. However, she had been doing so and was providing the social work team with drug-free urine samples. The mother was working with the social work department and was willing to engage with a parental capacity assessment, but she did not want the psychologist with whom she had previously dealt to conduct this assessment.

The mother’s solicitor told the court that there were two challenges that her client had to address: a) her need to be in secure accommodation and b) her substance abuse problems.  He said that the mother had made great strides to address her substance abuse, she was attending a clinic daily and had been providing clear urine samples to the CFA. He had a letter from the clinic confirming her attendance and highlighting her strong motivation to deal with her addiction issues. He told the court that the mother wanted to increase her level of access with her daughter.

The solicitor said that the CFA’s roadmap required that the mother would engage in a residential drug treatment programme. However, the mother did not want to attend a residential programme as she was making good progress with her current community-based treatment. He said that if she could demonstrate continued progress with the community treatment, the requirement for the residential programme would be disproportionate and unnecessary. He also said that work was ongoing to secure accommodation for the mother.

The CFA’s solicitor told the court that an access review meeting was planned to take place within the next two weeks at which point an increase of the mother’s access to her daughter would be considered.

The judge said that the allocated social worker report and affidavit had been submitted to him and that there were no questions in respect of either. He also noted that the child’s father was not responding.

On that basis, and with the consent of the mother, the judge said that he was satisfied that the grounds for an interim care order continued to exist, and he ordered the extension of the interim care order for a further 28 days. He adjourned the section 18 care order to the next date also.