Extension of interim care order where domestic violence a live issue – 2021vol1#8

The District Court approved the extension of an interim care order for two children who had been subject to physical and emotional abuse.

The court heard A and B were sister and brother respectively and had been in the care of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) in the same foster placement for almost a year. The children were initially the subject of a supervision order, however their father had been unwilling to engage with any services to address the concerns of the social workers and an interim care order was sought and granted.

The social worker gave evidence that the concerns remained. A had told her the father had threatened to kill his children and then himself. She told the court that the mother’s ability to protect the children was limited. She said she had met with the father and repeatedly requested he [the father] engage in mental health services, supports and recommendations but he had not. She stated the father would engage in a physical assessment of his health but not in any mental assessment and confirmed that the father would attend his general practitioner for the physical assessment.

She said there was a plan to reunify the children with their mother, who was very motivated to engage with all services in order to achieve this. The social worker said the mother was working with her to identify the supports she might need and was engaging with family therapy supports and psychological assessments. The children were having video calls with their mother and their mother was happy the children were safe.

The social worker said that from her last meeting with the children they had no desire to have contact with their father and were afraid of him. They were doing well in their foster placement and had had a good Christmas.

The mother, who was legally represented, consented to the application.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) supported the application and informed the court that A was awaiting a psychological assessment.

The father was in court initially. He had been legally represented earlier but was representing himself. He told the court he was the father of the children and he had received no information while they had been in care for over one year. He said this case had been heard by three different judges. He handed into court a letter that he wanted to be given to the previous judge.

The presiding judge said he would accept the letter given and place it on the court file, but he was the judge hearing the case today and the father must speak to him. The father told the judge he would engage in a psychological assessment. The judge explained to the father his children were afraid of him and explained the purpose of the interim care order. The judge told the father: “The first concern of everyone is the welfare of the children and this application is supported by the social worker, the GAL and the mother.”

The ICO was extended for a further 28 days.