District Court judge meets child who is not attending school – 2020vol1#22

A case where the District Court had made a care order was re-listed to ensure a teenage boy, Child A, was attending school. A care order had also been made for a girl in the family, Child B. The judge met with A before the court started to speak to him in relation to why he had not been going to school.

Judge: “He told me that he is going back on Monday. He wants to join the running club and football… I hope he will deliver on what he says he will deliver on.”

The judge expressed considerable concern about A not attending school and said that they needed to “keep an eye” on him. The judge said that she was minded to list the matter again the following week so that he can tell her why he did not attend school if that is the case. She said that the social worker and the guardian ad litem (GAL) did not need to be in attendance if A had gone back to school in the interim. The GAL agreed that this approach might be an incentive for him to return to school and said that “he likes to comply but finds it hard.”

Social worker: “The incentive might be there if he has to come back, but in the past he has stated he won’t go to school.”

Judge: “You can tell him I might put it in every week for mention to make sure he is in school.”

In respect of Child B the court was told that all the parties were in agreement that the current placement was not tenable in the long term and that the Child and Family Agency (CFA) was in the process of seeking an alternative placement. The CFA had sought to place B in another county in Ireland but the placement did not materialise. The court was told that a new unit is due to be opened but that it was not yet registered and that it might be an option. The court was told that B was “quite troubled and needs firm handling” and that she needed to be in a unit with children her own age.

The GAL was in agreement that B needed to be moved from her placement as the staff there did not “have a handle on her”.

The judge also listed Child B on the same date as Child A with the hope that there would be some good news on a new placement for B. The judge gave the parties liberty to apply if any orders are required for the welfare of either of the children.