Extension of Interim Care Order on consent – 2017vol1#16

The District Court in rural town heard an application made by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) on consent for an extension to an Interim Care Order for a young child for two months. The mother was legally represented. The social worker said the threshold continued to exist and it was in the child’s interest that he remain in care. The boy was now three a half years old and had been with his current foster family since he was one year old. He was “quite challenging” and had complex needs, including speech and language difficulties.

The court heard the mother lived in another CFA area. She was currently caring for a young baby and was being provided with intensive supports five times per week through a private agency paid for by the CFA. The mother had a learning disability and a history of psychiatric illness. The CFA social worker said that the father was considered to be the more competent of the two parents. In the past the child’s parents had separated and come back together. The couple were currently separated and the mother has secured a Safety Order for five years against her partner.

The solicitor for the mother asked the social worker if he was aware that the private agency was no longer providing the same level of support to the mother. The solicitor said the only support she was now receiving was her own social worker and addiction services. The social worker replied that he was not aware that the supports had been withdrawn, he had spoken to the relevant social worker in the other CFA area in the past fortnight and was not told of any change to the mother’s supports.

The social worker said the parents’ relationship has followed a particular pattern over the past few years – one of breakups followed by reconciliation – he said this pattern was “fairly clear at this stage. He acknowledged that the mother had taken the correct measure in getting the Safety Order. He urged the mother to “maintain the spirit of the Safety Order”.

In response to a question from the solicitor for the father, the social worker acknowledged that the father had done very well and should be commended for that. He had continued to attend addiction services weekly and maintained his sobriety for the past couple of years. The solicitor asked the social worker if he had any advice in relation to the father seeking reunification with the boy in care. The social worker replied that the father had told him he no longer was seeking the return of his son and had acknowledged that he needed to address his anger management issues. It was also noted that the father had been on the social housing list for some time.

The solicitor for the guardian ad litem (GAL) enquired if a date for the child in care review had been set as it had been cancelled on two occasions for different reasons. The court was informed that the date had been agreed and would be held within the coming month.

The CFA was seeking dates for a full Care Order. The CFA solicitor said the hearing was likely to last two days. They would discuss with the other parties and come back to the court on this matter.