Consideration of separation of siblings in care so one can be reunified with father – 2020vol1#21

See also Vol 1 of 2019 :

The reunification of children with their father was discussed in a resumed child care hearing in a rural town which was heard over three days. There had been two significant delays in the hearings, on the first occasion when the father returned to his home country following the tragic death of members of his family in a car accident and on the second occasion when the mother had her third child who was not the subject matter of these proceedings.

The case had been adjourned a year previously because the mother was expecting her third child and to allow her access to therapeutic support. The mother’s third child C was born ten months previously and was the subject of interim care orders initially granted four months earlier in an adjoining area of the child and family agency (CFA).

Previously the CFA had been seeking reunification of Child B with their father, but now were no longer doing so and were seeking full care orders for the older children, A, both of primary school age. The children had separate fathers and A’s father was not involved in proceedings.

Both parents were legally represented and came from another EU country. There was an interpreter present in court. The children had been together in the same foster family since the youngest, B, was six weeks old. The court heard previously the children had come into care because of the mother’s coping difficulties. At the time of the court hearing the siblings had been almost five years together.

The court had previously over six days heard the expert opinion of psychologists, a social care worker and a social worker. At the resumed hearing updated expert evidence was given by social workers, a social care worker, a psychologist, a play therapist, a guardian ad litem (GAL) and a forensic psychologist.

The viability of the reunification plan 

Since the court sat the previous year, matters had changed regarding the viability of B’s reunification with his father, the court heard.

Judge: “It was said previously, the psychologist considered the father a good enough parent and a road map was set out and like life nothing is certain and my understanding is the reunification plan ceased and is now no longer feasible. [If] that Psychologist would outline why it is no longer feasible, I would like to hear where we are now and his opinion.”

In his 2018 report the psychologist expert had recommended a reunification plan for B with his father and the plan was to take 12-18 months with the psychologist engaged by the CFA to monitor the risk factors and evaluate the plan as it progressed. One of the risk factors identified was the father’s lack of insight, the court heard. 


The psychologist told the court that one of his challenges as a professional and for the court was “when enough is enough”.

Psychologist: “I have travelled four and a half years and arrived at the point I started. [There are] two children in a care situation where they have a second chance and there were positives and negatives with the parents.  [The reunification plan] was an eight-page document and [the plan] needed resourcing. There are no mental health difficulties for the father.

“I think he comes from a culture that values work, and this has served him well and [with] the amount of loss and intrapsychic losses and he has developed a mechanism called sublimation. It is a strong part of the mother too, [to put] value on economic security. Over the four to five years [there were] never any difficulties in working with the father. [He was] a very reliable person to assess.” Gender was an issue in working with the father, the psychologist told the court, and he did not have the terse dismissive experiences which female colleagues reported to him.

The psychologist told the court he had a number of meetings with the father to update the parenting capacity assessment report. “In my experience he [ the father] was looking for an end to this and that the court would decide. [There were] eight to ten meetings for the last assessment [and there was] no mention of reunification. [He was] looking for increased access and seeking the court’s direction about this rather than the plan.”

Shared care had been raised by the father in 2016 and the psychologist said “it was great to hear the relationship between the father and the foster carers although always polite has got closer. “

The implication of reunification is that it stands or falls on a secure base and starts with a physical structure and moves towards a psychological structure, the psychologist told the court. The father agreed with the CFA solicitor that the loss of the father’s accommodation was meaningful.

CFA solicitor: “Are you surprised about no progress regarding the (father’s) accommodation?

Psychologist: “What surprises me after four and a half years now is maybe these parents don’t know how to fight harder.”

When the psychologist was asked by the CFA solicitor whether the father should be spending more time at access in his home with B, the psychologist said: “It comes down to what access means in the mind of the father.” Access should be about reality and had been a significant containing experience for B within the father’s previous family home, he told the court. “I told him if you can do it once you can do it once again and how internal models get established within the psyche. If established, you are halfway there.”

B was also at a stage in his motor sensory development where he wanted to be on the move, the court heard, and the psychologist encouraged the father to use opportunities for intimacy such as looking at nature. “It was more about sitting down with him exploring when each of them has had enough. “As [B’s] secure base gets stronger the loss for a biological parent gets greater,” the psychologist said.

CFA solicitor: “Has too much time lapsed for changes to [B’s] secure base without impact on his emotional well-being?

Psychologist: “I think so.”

The psychologist referred to one episode cited by foster carers about B going between three worlds – those of his father, mother and foster carers.  As B develops, he will have more questions around his identity, the psychologist told the court.

The CFA solicitor put to the psychologist that the court had a choice of a shorter carer order then revisiting parental reunification, or a longer care order, or to discharge the care order.

The psychologist said the context as referred to in his previous report was that the systems of foster care, the social work department, the children and the parents had to work in an integrated way.

CFA solicitor: “Is it possible with increased access [to make] a start?”

Psychologist: “[This is] more than a start that the father and foster carers can work in an integrated way. They have done that when [B] wanted two soccer balls.”

CFA solicitor: “What if there is no growth and the father doesn’t engage with the social work department can [B] wait for all this to happen. Is it fair for him?”

Psychologist: “Adults have a responsibility to construct something. It is going to take goodwill and co-operation on all parties and [B’s] well-being is central to this. The onus is on the father to explain he is returning [B] early.”

Social worker

The father had lost his previous rental accommodation and was sharing rental accommodation with a friend, the court heard. The social worker witness told the court a stable accommodation base was very important for B. She gave evidence regarding accommodation issues and the father’s understanding of the importance of key relationships and attachments which B had with his foster family and his sibling A. She found it difficult to engage with the father and when she approached accommodation and relationship issues, he would respond by saying “let the judge decide” or “see you in court”, she said. Access had not progressed, and the father was returning B early on access dates most of which took place away from the father’s home.

The father’s barrister said the current social worker seemed to have a very negative attitude towards the father and that she was the first expert on the eighth day of the hearing to have this. “He worked well with other professionals and the psychologist who suggested reunification,” she said.

The social worker referred to the family support worker’s evidence which asked whether the father could be more forceful in pursuing his housing rights. The father’s barrister said he was to be commended for his infinite patience with the authorities and now he was being criticised for being compliant.

Father’s barrister: “There is a cultural difference.”

Social worker: “There is no enthusiasm since he got on the [housing] list. Yes, the housing crisis affects a lot of my parents. Of course, I understand it is going to be hard. I sense an ambivalence. “

The father’s barrister read out the previous social worker’s report which said the father worked hard at seeking accommodation and at a parenting programme. She contrasted this with the impression she said given by the current social worker in court that the father discounted accommodation when she showed him accommodation on the Daft website.

Social worker: “These are his words. ‘I don’t like the look of any of them.’ It was a 3-bedroom house with a garden.”

Father’s barrister: “The father says we dispute that, and it was an apartment. He has been looking all the time. [B] likes outside space. “

Social worker: “Well, I’m not lying. “

“There were lots of times when reunification almost happened. Our issue now is about the psychology of B. Almost every day that goes by makes it harder.” the social worker told the court. It was hard to work with the level of defensiveness of the father and he was not putting B’s interests first. “We need the father to work with us.” she said. The social worker said the father did not acknowledge the importance of B’s relationship with his foster carers.

Father’s barrister: “You refer to a secure base being ripped from him. That is very emotional language isn’t it?”

Social worker: “It is emotive, and it is not OK. I am not going to ignore that.”

Father’s barrister: “Perhaps your way isn’t working. “

Social worker: “My report is positive.”

Father’s barrister: “But your evidence isn’t.”

“Your emotions are not a legal consideration.  The law in Ireland is the best interests for a child [and the] place for a child is with the parents unless the threshold is met. The statement is overstated. Of course, we all have emotions, but you have to distance yourself.”

Social worker: “Not in social work, you have to make sure they don’t impact. Perhaps [it is] too emotive language. [I am] trying to be honest. A child’s secure base is very important to their emotional well-being. [I am] not trying to put blame on the father. As far as [B is concerned] it is daddy [D] and mummy [E] [his foster carers] and if that is removed from him, he would be in a severe amount of distress. The father didn’t engage in the meeting with the parenting capacity assessment. He does not seem to appreciate [the impact of] the longer things go on [such as] not getting housing.”

Father’s barrister: “The psychologist gave evidence previously. He always acknowledged short term loss and the foster mother as the biggest loss but living with his natural parent would be a long-term benefit. A child with a secure attachment is likely to go on to form other secure attachments.”

The social worker went on to say there were plenty of positive things, but the issue was about moving to the next step. “How is he to have an overnight if he doesn’t keep [B] until the end of access?” she asked. The social worker told the court the father changed access to a Friday because of his work and he was looking to get accommodation near his work rather than near where B lived. The father’s barrister and the social worker disputed the issue of the father returning B to his foster carers early on a longer day of access and the suggestion that his parenting style was more that of a peer than a parent. The father’s barrister put it to the social worker the father was being child-centred in dropping back B early to his foster carers when he was tired, and he was still parenting when outside the home. The father took B on lots of outdoor activities and outings which were child-centred, the barrister told the court.

The social worker agreed B had lots of fun with his father and the father now had a real relationship with B’s foster carers. The court heard B’s recent birthday party at his foster carers had gone well with his father present. The father’s barrister put it to the social worker that the father’s improved communication with the foster carers was good going forward and the social worker told the court she commended the father for this.

Judge: “I think the point is made; the social worker is indicating the father should be doing parenting things and you are indicating he is being child-centred. Is that a fair summary?”

Father’s barrister: “Yes.”

The father’s barrister put it to the social worker that reports had said shared care was a possibility. The social worker told the court the father’s actions did not match the words and he was looking to move an hour away.

A and B’s access with their mother

The CFA would have no role with access between the mother and B, if B reunited with his father, the court was told by the social worker. The judge said in that case it would be a private law matter. The father’s barrister said he had no difficulty with B having access with his mother and with sibling access.

A CFA family support worker who had been supervising access with the mother for the previous year gave an overview to the court of the positives and negatives of access which she had observed. She told the court B was more hesitant than A in his relationship with his mother at access. B needed a lot of reassurance and sought this from the family social worker and the foster mother, she said. She described some positive experiences for the children at access with their mother, such as making food with the children from the mother’s home country, craft making, reminiscing with A about how her grandmother taught her the craft, holding B’s hand while out walking, complementing B on his appearance, talking about A as a baby, being able to say no to buying toys just before Christmas. She met the mother before access to plan and structure access so she could get the most out of it, she said. A was hesitant in the last few weeks when baby C was not there. She had observed a strong connection between A and her mother at Christmas access and A told her mother she loved her, that she was the best. The mother was sad and flat which was to be expected, the family support worker said.

The family support worker told the court there were some negative aspects to access such as the mother not picking up on the children’s cues in play, not keeping to boundaries, trying to buy affection through sweets and toys, making negative comments about the children’s appearances in front of them, the mother’s lack of supervision of baby C at access and of how A was holding the baby and feeding her.

Family support worker: “On one occasion at a bowling access the mother didn’t look OK and when I asked was she ok, she spoke in her language and removed herself and the baby for ten minutes. [B] continued to bowl, and I reassured [A]. Without any explanation access was curtailed.”

The family support worker agreed with the mother’s barrister that the mother never missed a visit with her children, and she showed love and a level of consistency and commitment. The children knew their mother would turn up.

Mother’s barrister: “You referred to the [fact that] the  mother enjoys being in the company of the children and agreed that encouragement doesn’t come naturally, but you agreed there had been occasions when there were positive comments about complimenting the children.”

The mother needed a strong level of support in managing the children at access, the court  heard. “If the children are not engaging the mother takes it personally and is affronted [rather than seeing it] as not personal but age-related,” the family support worker said.

When asked by the mother’s barrister if access needed to be stretched, the family support worker said she would like it to be a nicer time for the mother and a half hour beforehand with the mother might help to structure access and help bring the mother forward. If she did not intervene access could be chaotic, the family support worker said.

Mother’s barrister: “There are different parenting styles, some more effusive [and it is] an agreed part of your role is to support. Is saying B is pale the most critical? “

Family support worker: “The mother said it often, ‘B is too skinny’. She has every right but [she could] use the time before access with me in an adult forum.”

Mother’s barrister: “Parents will often say this to children. Is there an element of sometimes, ideally, access has to be great and wonderful and life being natural and putting on your access face and leaving again?”

Family support worker: “[I] Agree and the mother had limited time, [so it needs to be] most positive.”

One of the deficits highlighted was the mother not being able to recognise her own emotions and the play therapist had agreed with the mother’s barrister how the mother told the family support worker she felt natural and like a mother when cooking food with the children at access. “This showed that Tusla wanted to acknowledge and at least recognise positive developments when they happen,” the mother’s barrister said.

Mother’s barrister: “Keeping boundaries seems a constant struggle for a lot of parents and part of the struggle of parenting.”

Family support worker: “Yes, it is. The children lose the ability to keep the boundary when with their mother.”

Judge: “Do you understand the bind she is in. The children are capable of taking boundaries within access. Would it be it be fair to say, I understand where she is coming from, she doesn’t want to get their back up and there is a tendency to concede.”

The family support worker agreed supervised access was a sad situation and she was not suggesting the mother should not buy some things and agreed with the mother’s barrister there were ways around this. The GAL told the court if A remained in care, she would want the situation to move to less supervision of access and she was open to reviewing access.

There had been a gap in the mother’s access with the children. Previously she had been seeing the children fortnightly with their baby sister C until she went into care four months previously. The children had seen C with her foster carers without their mother and the court heard the children felt sad. This had brought up mixed emotions and they did not want to hand C back. The mother had hoped to attend B’s birthday access and she heard in court the father had been at B’s birthday access, the mother’s barrister said.

Mother’s barrister: “Is it a consideration for the social work department [and] a concern the indirect prompts the children are getting? Does it concern you messages are going to the children re: gap of a month?”

Judge: “What does concern you?”

Mother’s barrister: “I supposed some subtle message, a slight concern.”

Social worker: “I don’t have a concern, but the access support worker and social work department are looking into it.”

The social worker told the court there had been a meeting between the social worker, access worker, and the GAL regarding a plan for one hour’s access monthly rather than an hour and a half with time before and afterwards between the access worker and the mother. This was decided she explained because it was more manageable for the children and the access had previously been of poor quality, she said. She was not sure whether the access would be joint or separate, but the access would need to be under constant review, she told the court.

The mother’s barrister asked the play therapist if inconsistency in access could give the children the message something was wrong.

Judge: “When you are four, six or eight – was I bold? [There could ] be a level of introspection.”

Play therapist: “At 10 and 12 it is not a leap for a child to say was I not lovable? While not outwardly asking, it is safe to assume questions are going on and were just not verbalised yet.”

Why is play therapist referred to here?

A and B’s primary relationships and how these could be impacted if B is reunified with his father.

The social worker said she knew the court was concerned about the enduring relationship with siblings. “This would be a huge loss for [B],” the social worker told the court. She had not seen any sense of the father taking this seriously enough and understanding how sibling relationships are protected, she said.

Siblings do survive separation, but certain criteria were necessary, and the sibling bond is the strongest in the family, the psychologist told the court. A drew B as a girl and could love and hate B, he told the court. B needed to develop a good enough internal working model which would guide him in how we have relationships with people, the psychologist told the court.

The social worker said B’s separation anxiety from his foster father was worse when access for B with his father was increased. The father’s barrister said B had separation anxiety as the foster father worked abroad for the first two years of his placement. She put it to the social worker because the father preferred B living with him did not mean he did not acknowledge the importance of the relationship with the foster carer.

He referred to his report and drawings B had done of his foster father and his biological father. He said B considered his foster carer as a day-to-day paternal figure and when he was having fun with his father, he called him “Dad”. “It is a massive thing for a child [as to] what to call this person. I have told the foster carers to work with what [B] gives you,” the psychologist told the court.

When asked by the CFA solicitor if the foster mother was a mother figure for B, the psychologist said the foster mother told him she had been his only consistent mother figure. When asked whether his assessment of the mother had changed, the psychologist told the court: “It said something the mother was still attending the voluntary organisation and therapy for the mother would take 12-18 months.”

Play therapist

The play therapist witness described her work as non-directive, non-judgmental and a safe therapeutic opportunity and place for children to express and process feelings regarding significant relationships and access. She said her work was not investigative but if a child made a disclosure of abuse, she would refer it to Tusla. She had seen each child for ten individual sessions with more to follow.

In the early sessions, A’s biggest fear was of being lost and the play therapist told the court A would look out the window to see that the foster mother was waiting outside in her car. A was a young girl craving for stability and security, she told the court. This had now improved, and the play therapist said A was feeling more secure and emotionally regulated. She displayed a strong personality, and this manifested itself in a bossy way struggling to self-regulate and grasping and grabbing in the earlier sessions. She said this could be the need to control experiences in her life due to early life experiences but agreed with the mother’s barrister this could also be due to personality.

In the beginning A appeared positively attached to her foster parents whom she referred to as mammy and daddy and their first names. The play therapist observed warm feelings between the foster mother and A. A spoke of B in a meaningful and balanced way and there were undertones of sibling rivalry, she said. A did not mention her birth mother, but on the prompt of the foster mother she told the play therapist she had a baby sister. She said A never brought up her biological father. The play therapist agreed with the father’s barrister that A knew B had a different father whom he saw, and she did not see her father.

When the mother’s barrister said the children had not seen their baby sister in recent times and asked how this impacted A, the play therapist told the court A commented she had not seen her sister, and hoped she would see her soon. The play therapist said this was important as A held a sense of her sister in her mind.

A’s play was age appropriate and creative. The play therapist recently asked A to do a family drawing which she brought to court and with the judge’s permission showed it to the legal representatives for the parents and the CFA. The play therapist said the drawing depicted A with her foster mother with both wearing the same high heels and then B her foster father and next to him their older foster brother F.  B was depicted as a stick man figure which the play therapist told the court was a popular cartoon figure and not an indication of B being less important.

A was very animated when she was doing the drawing, and she put in a huge amount of care and attention into the drawing. She put a border around the picture, which the play therapist told the court children do unconsciously when they want to frame something significant for them. In all her drawings B is by A’s side. She agreed with the CFA solicitor this indicated his importance to her.

Play therapist: “[A] can’t visualise not being with [B]. The work has to be led by [A] and I will support her.”

The play therapist told the court the potential effect on A if separated from B would be the effect on her capacity to trust in adults and as an adult, she may question any change. A huge amount of resources would have to be apportioned going forward in maintaining the sibling relationship. A would have several losses – not living with her biological mother, no contact with her biological father, little contact with B’s father with whom she had lived previously. When things change, the default is for children to blame themselves and you can only see this through the eyes of a child, the play therapist said.

B was described by the play therapist as a very energetic boy with positive eye contact. He was strongly attached to his foster mother and always called her “mammy”, she said. She observed warm feeling tones between both. On one occasion B refused to attend and she observed his resistance and self-determination, which was probably his need for autonomy, she said. The foster mother asked for help and the session progressed. B never mentioned his mother or baby sister. On one occasion he mentioned his father by his first name whom he was going to see on that day but did not expand when asked further about his father. The play therapist agreed with the father’s barrister that B spontaneously brought up his father as it was very much in his head.

B sang and hummed when deep and content and talked about his three dogs.

Since resumption of sessions B successfully moved on and was co-operative and no longer resisted attendance. He still displayed the same level of joy. B’s play was more elaborate and detailed and on track for his age, the play therapist said.  He had developed greater emotional regulation, more complex play themes and descriptive language. He spoke about his friends at school and the things he did with his sister, A. The play therapist said there was nothing of concern.

Play therapist: “My role is to see the world through his eyes. He has formed a secure attachment with his foster family, and I would like to see it continue and to have continued contact with his family. If everything he holds true of family life, if that was to change, he would certainly grieve his sister. She was there all the days of his life. He would find it difficult to adjust [and it could] affect how he might trust friendships around him and [this] could manifest [itself] up to adulthood.”

When asked by the judge whether a child can form anther attachment after he has formed a secure attachment, the play therapist said: “This depends on the context. The foundation of one attachment doesn’t necessarily guarantee another attachment. “

The play therapist agreed there was potential for more meaningful attachment if managed properly and it would depend on how it was managed and about how supported the child was. She said sibling relationships endure and it would be important for the adults in their lives to ensure the relationships continue.

She recommended appropriate support for the foster mother around additional skills for challenging behaviour and was open to meeting both parents.

The play therapist showed the court a photograph of A and B. The play therapist said: “It was a huge privilege working with the children who had equal capacity for mischief which I like to see in any child.”

Guardian ad litem

A and B had always been together, the GAL told the court.

“I have seen them hug and fight. The relationship as they know it, they have always been there. If there is separation, [it would be] devastating. I cannot think of a stronger word. [A] expects B to be there all the time and copes with [B] being with his father but knows he will be coming home,” the GAL told the court.

GAL: “Judge I have known these children for four years, a long time. My experience in this role is to highlight how beautiful these children are and while cognisant of thresholds I have to advocate what is best and [one] couldn’t test what it would be like to separate the children.”

The GAL told the court the father did not give enough consideration about B’s needs in relationship to his sister and his foster carers. “They are paid to look after him,” was sometimes said in a jokey way by the father.  This did not diminish the father’s love, but it was his lived life B remembered and not a parent child relationship with his father.

“Through nobody’s fault, I don’t think he is going to be able to cope with change of school and home, [I would be] worried about his emotional wellbeing, the impact on [B]. I don’t know how B would react,” she said.

The GAL told the court A was doing well and she was having huge investment and benefits and B had so much scope for his relationships to grow and develop. She asked if the court made an order it would be important to have this reviewed.

Evidence of the social worker for baby C  

During the previous year the mother had been referred to an adjoining area of the CFA where she lived for support during her pregnancy with C who was ten months old at the time of the hearing. The social worker agreed with the mother’s barrister that the focus of her home visits was about putting practical supports in place after the baby arrived. The mother attended a voluntary organisation for counselling and one-to-one parent support on the circle of security parenting programme and social work support.  She also attended a children and babies’ group.

Mother’s barrister: “Were there any concerns regarding the mother meeting the basic needs of the baby?”

Social worker: “[There were] no concerns highlighted. “

The court heard that four months previously baby C had been taken into care on an emergency basis by An Garda Síochána under section 12 of the Child Care Act when the mother was observed driving erratically, swaying and swerving on a country road at 5.30pm on a winter’s evening. The paramedics observed baby C in the child seat and observed the mother crying uncontrollably and they could not communicate with her. When the mother got out of the car, there was a scent of faeces and she appeared to have defecated in the car.

The crew were concerned for the mother and baby’s wellbeing. The mother was brought to a local garda station. A GP was contacted, who attended the mother and observed she appeared to have had a psychotic episode. The mother was detained under the Mental Health Act and brought to an acute unit. She was discharged after five days and the mother stayed on voluntarily for a few more days as staff were concerned about her mental health on returning home. The baby was admitted to foster care where she was placed at first under an emergency care order and then interim care orders by the CFA.

The court heard C’s father was not living with the mother, was unwilling to care for baby C and did not attend the care hearings. In terms of access, the mother always attended, and he attended some of the time.

The social worker told the court she visited the mother in hospital the evening following her admission to try and identify what had happened. There was no interpreter present and the social worker said the mother could understand the conversation.

Social worker: “I asked what caused her to feel stressed. She said she had been in court and felt stressed. She felt she was poisoned. She wasn’t sure whether she was food poisoned and that was why she ended up in the hospital.”

She agreed with the mother’s barrister that the account of the incident sounded distressing and the acute unit assessment found psychosocial stress but no evidence of psychosis or mental illness. The baby, C, appeared ok at the time of the incident and she agreed there was no issue with the baby’s medical appearance. The mother moved from being an involuntary patient to a voluntary one not resisting medical assistance and the social worker agreed with the mother’s barrister that this was positive. The court heard the mother attended a further two out-patient’s appointments and there was no evidence of mental health acute reaction or significant psycho-social stressors.

The social worker told the court the mother became increasingly heightened emotionally when talking about her children in care. In response the mother’s barrister put it to the social worker that she might appreciate the significant stress on the mother with two children almost five years in care and a third child going into care. “You can imagine the thoughts which must be going through her head,” she said.

The court heard a parenting capacity assessment was to commence the following week and this would take twelve weeks. When asked if a psychiatrist would be involved in the assessment, the social worker told the court a senior psychologist would be involved and would be able to look at the broader picture of the mother’s previous life experiences and the psychosocial issues.

The mother had access with C three times a week for two hours, 80 percent of the access was supervised. The access was unsupervised when the father was present. The social worker said she had a good working relationship with the mother, and she appeared more attentive with the baby, but when the mother was stressed about the children in care the access was less focused.

Sibling access had been successfully carried out regularly before C went into care and the foster carers had privately arranged access also. The social worker considered sibling access important moving forward.

The social worker told the court she felt the mother either had no insight into why her children were in care or she had a memory block.  She noted the mother appeared frustrated after attending C’s nine-month developmental check which had gone well.

Social worker: “She appeared frustrated speaking in her native language and English. She stated it wasn’t right her children were in care. I asked her why A and B were in care, she said she was the perfect mother. [She had] supports, then C in care and then the other children in care. I reminded her of the section 12 reason.”

When asked by the judge whether her client understood why her children were in care, the mother’s barrister said this was one of the very live issues in the case which the mother would address in her evidence.

Mother’s barrister: “Are you working towards C reunifying with her mother?

Social worker: “It is always the end goal, but no decision has been made at the moment.”

The case was adjourned for two further day’s evidence later.