District Court judge seeks social worker affidavit even when order consented to – 2020vol1#46

During an application to extend interim care orders for four children the judge said that he would like to see a short affidavit relating to the threshold for the order sought from the social workers involved, in addition to an affidavit from the CFA solicitor. During the Covid-19 restrictions consent applications were being dealt with by way of affidavit.

The court was told there was consent to the application for two of the children but an issue had arisen for the other two as an issue had arisen concerning their placement.

The CFA solicitor said that the social work team had met with prospective carers who were a family that were very experienced and had two teenage children of their own. The prospective carers were described as “very appropriate” and were aware of the high level of needs of the girls. The CFA solicitor told the court that the previous placement were first time foster carers and “weren’t in a position to provide all the extra support” to the girls and the CFA were satisfied that the newly identified foster carers was an appropriate placement. The mother was concerned about access, both for her and the siblings.

Judge: “My recollection is that of a chaotic existence. It seems to me important that they get access to one another.”

The CFA solicitor said that she noted the courts comments about sibling access and would inform the social work team.

The CFA solicitor provided an affidavit sworn by her to the court which exhibited the social work report and provided details of her updated instructions about the new placement. The judge commented that the CFA should be in a position to have a social worker affidavit before the court that states the threshold is met and it was “preferable that a short social worker affidavit dealing with threshold” was before the court rather than just the CFA’s solicitor’s affidavit.

The CFA solicitor told the court that it was a “topic of conversation in the CFA” and they were live to the concern of the court and the CFA were trying to ascertain how to arrange social workers affidavits.

Judge: “In respect of the evidential burden I think the court should have affidavit of social workers even on consent matters so there is no doubt that somebody has sworn to the threshold.”

The judge extended the interim care order.