An interim care order was extended in respect of two children in a provincial town. The children had been in eight foster placements since coming into care and there had been issues in relation to the previous placement. No social worker had been allocated to the case for a number of months and there were concerns due to the lack of progressing meetings and assessments on the part of the Child and Family Agency (CFA).
The social worker had been on sick leave and the matter was without an assigned social worker for a significant period of time. The solicitor for the CFA said a new social worker had been assigned to the case at the beginning of the week.
The team leader said he met the new social worker and she was arranging to meet people. There was very little movement in the case and there needed to be child in care reviews and a professionals meeting had to be arranged. The team leader said the report from the therapeutic service had been shared with one of the children’s schools and not the other as the team leader had not been able to get hold of the principal of the other child’s school.
The team leader said there was a potential for reunification of the family. There was work ongoing in relation to psychotherapy to start seeing things from the children’s perspectives and the recommendations from the parenting assessment to be considered.
The solicitor for the father said: “The meetings on what is required for the parents and the work they have to do has not taken place. There is significant drift.”
The judge asked: “Why have the meetings not taken place?”
The team leader said he had a meeting and it was to identify social workers to be allocated to cases and none of the cases of the team leader had a social worker allocated.
The judge said the guardian ad litem (GAL) had stated that a plan should be supplied to see how the outstanding matters could be resolved.
The team leader said that a plan could happen but he was unsure whether it could happen in the next week. He said the mother had been attending psychotherapy and had been engaging but there was a long way to go.
The solicitor for the mother said there had been issues in relation to the last placement including a want of care.
The team leader said that was being followed up through the fostering link service and these foster carers had not fostered since. The children had allegedly been locked outside and were excluded from a family cinema evening. The children said they did not wish to talk about the incidents in the placement. The children had not disclosed anything further to the fostering link worker.
The judge asked: “When will the reports be shared and [when will] the meetings take place?”
The team leader replied: “By the end of this week. The professionals’ meeting will be arranged within the next two weeks and the child in care reviews [will be arranged] by the end of [the month].” He said there were difficulties obtaining urinalysis for the mother. The assessment of her partner was also taking more time. He said they needed to meet the father to discuss psychological therapy and contact the psychologist to ascertain her availability.
The judge said a lot of progress would be made when the matter came back before the court.
The interim care order was extended for a period of 28 days.