The Dublin District Court granted an extension of an interim care order in respect of a teenage boy consistently going missing in care. The court heard that the boy had been approved for admission to special care but no bed was available as of yet.
The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said the case had a detailed background with a number of applications before the High Court. The judge said she was not interested in hearing about what was going on in the High Court, the only matter before the District Court was the extension of the existing interim care order. She asked whether the application was on consent.
The mother’s solicitor said the substantive application was on consent, but the case was “unusual” as the teenager had been intermittently missing in care for a significant period of time. She said the teenager’s mother was present in court on every occasion and had always engaged well with the CFA.
The court was told the experts had all agreed the boy required special care, but this had been met with resistance by the CFA initially. She said the boy had eventually been approved for special care following multiple court applications.
Judge: “Where is he [the teenager] now?”
CFA solicitor: “He is missing… He was seen in [a local area] last night… There was a media alert previously and we are intending on doing another one today…”
The CFA solicitor confirmed the boy had been approved for special care, but said there was no bed available for him as of yet. She said he was currently in a bespoke placement, but did not engage with the team there.
The court heard how previously the teenager had absconded for “short periods” and had “generally gone to his mother’s home,” but that the level of absconsion had increased significantly in recent times, so there was a “real concern” now.
The solicitor for the guardian ad litem (GAL) said the GAL was consenting to the application. He suggested it would be useful for the court to hear some of the background to the case. He said there was no question but that the boy required special care, but because no bed had been available, the CFA would not agree that it was required.
He said they had “no choice” but to bring judicial review proceedings, but that on the day of the hearing the teenager was ultimately approved for special care. The solicitor suggested special care had only been granted by the committee on foot of the judicial review proceedings being initiated.
The court was told it was very unfortunate that there was still no bed available, but it remained the view of the committee that the teenager met the criteria for special care.
Having heard the evidence the judge said she would extend the interim care order for a period of two weeks. No further directions were required.